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6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! #2739502
05/25/18 07:00 PM
05/25/18 07:00 PM
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sbsmusik Offline OP
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I just signed up two transfer students who have studied almost one year with another teacher, but literally have only played songs using their right hands. They are both 6 years old, smart, musical and seem to enjoy playing the piano, but their old teacher used a method book that doesn't address the left hand or bass clef at all in the first book (called "Piano-K: The Self-Teaching Piano Game"). Surprisingly, they have decent technique and know their treble c-position notes, as well as things like rests, half notes, etc. They've just never used their left hands at all(!!).

We've only had a meet-and-greet lesson so far, but I will see them again next week, and I'm worried about how to keep them interested/motivated while their left hands catch up.

I've never seen this before! Has anyone else had students like this? What did you do? Any suggestions?

Last edited by sbsmusik; 05/25/18 07:01 PM.
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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2739555
05/26/18 12:11 AM
05/26/18 12:11 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Why don't you write some exercises for them using ONLY the bass clef?


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2739567
05/26/18 01:56 AM
05/26/18 01:56 AM
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Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Offline
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My guess (from a non-teacher):

. . . Their left hands will "catch up" much faster than you expect.

The _conceptual_ work is all done. Only the muscles need to learn what to do. They're six, not sixty, with very plastic brains and nervous systems.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2739895
05/27/18 03:41 PM
05/27/18 03:41 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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They aren't that far along. I'd just have them start in your fav method book from the beginning and tell them they're going to learn how to use both hands now. It should go quickly in the early pages for them since their reading is probably pretty good, so teach it as "review" and don't dwell too long on them.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740194
05/28/18 07:22 PM
05/28/18 07:22 PM
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And don't forget to congratulate their former teacher for what she did accomplish with them. Teaching five year olds is a dubious endeavour because they learn all you gave them and more in one third the time if you simply wait til they are older.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740450
05/29/18 03:53 PM
05/29/18 03:53 PM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
And don't forget to congratulate their former teacher for what she did accomplish with them. Teaching five year olds is a dubious endeavour because they learn all you gave them and more in one third the time if you simply wait til they are older.

Do you always discriminate and pigeonhole the kids by age??? You should look at each kid as an individual. There are plenty of 5-year-old piano students who excel better than their 9-year-old counterparts.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740591
05/30/18 02:37 AM
05/30/18 02:37 AM
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South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
And don't forget to congratulate their former teacher for what she did accomplish with them. Teaching five year olds is a dubious endeavour because they learn all you gave them and more in one third the time if you simply wait til they are older.

I'm not going to congratulate any teacher for not teaching. Teaching only the treble clef is horribly bad teaching.

I spend most of my time with transfers undoing damage coming from clueless teachers who should not be teaching in the first place.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: AZNpiano] #2740592
05/30/18 02:39 AM
05/30/18 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Candywoman
And don't forget to congratulate their former teacher for what she did accomplish with them. Teaching five year olds is a dubious endeavour because they learn all you gave them and more in one third the time if you simply wait til they are older.

Do you always discriminate and pigeonhole the kids by age??? You should look at each kid as an individual. There are plenty of 5-year-old piano students who excel better than their 9-year-old counterparts.

I would not go quite that far. wink

I'm pretty sure that out of every 100 young students, the 9 year-olds are going to play better, in general.

That said, a really talented five year-old who is eager will play rings around a pre-teen or teen who shows up for half the lessons and is looking for a Personal Piano Trainer!


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: AZNpiano] #2740737
05/30/18 02:16 PM
05/30/18 02:16 PM
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Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano. And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740752
05/30/18 02:51 PM
05/30/18 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano. And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?

That's a generalization. Just as one case in point, there are plenty of pianists who went to conservatories who even started at 3 years of age, even in modern times. So because you asked to be shown, here is one:

Here is another who is completely different in style/approach, but who like the previous, also started piano at 3 and ended up going to the conservatory:

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 05/30/18 02:53 PM.

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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740753
05/30/18 02:52 PM
05/30/18 02:52 PM
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California, USA
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
.... Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?


Within my circle of friends, the point of starting piano lessons at a young age is not to produce a prodigy, nor to put that accomplishment on a resume. It's not to get a head start on music so they can be ahead of everyone else. It's not to ensure they will still go back to piano as adults.

It is because the child is really enthusiastic about learning music right at that time.

This goes for any type of learning... ice skating, ballet, drawing.... it's just an outlet for learning, not that they must become experts, or that they do it for the rest of their lives.


Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: MomOfBeginners] #2740776
05/30/18 03:34 PM
05/30/18 03:34 PM
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Posts: 16,384
Boynton Beach, FL
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Originally Posted by MomOfBeginners
Originally Posted by Candywoman
.... Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?


Within my circle of friends, the point of starting piano lessons at a young age is not to produce a prodigy, nor to put that accomplishment on a resume. It's not to get a head start on music so they can be ahead of everyone else. It's not to ensure they will still go back to piano as adults.

It is because the child is really enthusiastic about learning music right at that time.

This goes for any type of learning... ice skating, ballet, drawing.... it's just an outlet for learning, not that they must become experts, or that they do it for the rest of their lives.

The thing about piano that differs from the other activities you mentioned, is that it involves fine motor skills that a 3-year-old doesn't possess. I know Suzuki tries to overcome this, but I don't necessarily find Suzuki students ahead of traditional ones who start later - even at age 6 or 7 it's much better. Later for boys usually.

But every child is different. I have once in a while taught 5 year olds and they did very well, with the parent there during the lesson and helping them practice during the week. But again, as they grew, they sort of ended up where older students were who started later and progressed quickly.

Last edited by Morodiene; 05/30/18 03:34 PM.

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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740788
05/30/18 04:04 PM
05/30/18 04:04 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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I think this age discrimination thing hit a nerve in me. I never judge a student based on his or her age. There is such a wild gamut of abilities, even within one school year. The advanced kids are bored out of their minds. The struggling kids need more support and are hopelessly lost.

As private piano teachers, we get to cater the education experience to each individual student. None of this "one size fits all" approach.

I don't have a large pool of 5-year-old students in my experience, but the talented ones from that group can outplay many of the 9-year-old starters who are still trying to learn bass clef.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740790
05/30/18 04:08 PM
05/30/18 04:08 PM
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Posts: 7,647
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano.

WRONG! It is unwise for clueless teachers to teach four- and five-year-old students. There are teachers who actually know what they are doing.

Originally Posted by Candywoman
And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?

By your ludicrous argument, nobody should take up piano lessons. Medical school resume???


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Morodiene] #2740796
05/30/18 04:19 PM
05/30/18 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by MomOfBeginners
...This goes for any type of learning... ice skating, ballet, drawing.... it's just an outlet for learning, not that they must become experts, or that they do it for the rest of their lives.


Originally Posted by Morodiene
...The thing about piano that differs from the other activities you mentioned, is that it involves fine motor skills that a 3-year-old doesn't possess.


Little kids develop motor skills in a big mixed up bunch. Dividing them up into "fine motor" and "gross motor" skills is convenient for those of us studying and promoting development. Most activities require a mix of fine and gross motor skills. Piano, dance, skating, and drawing all have gross and fine motor components. All of these activities involve motor skills that students don't possess; that's why kids take lessons. Motor skills are developed by performing actions.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740805
05/30/18 05:13 PM
05/30/18 05:13 PM
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I asked NOT to be shown videos. They prove nothing. I love Valentina's playing, but she would have been just as good today if she had started at eight. We don't say of famous neurosurgeons, if only they had started their medical studies at 15, they'd be so much farther today. People study things at reasonable ages.

I have heard the five year olds of other teachers play. They look cute. They have no bridge in the hand. Their timing is terrible. They have no finger muscles. They get applause. If that's good enough for a parent, power to you. To me, it's foolhardy.

Last edited by Candywoman; 05/30/18 05:17 PM.
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Morodiene] #2740831
05/30/18 06:14 PM
05/30/18 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene

The thing about piano that differs from the other activities you mentioned, is that it involves fine motor skills that a 3-year-old doesn't possess. I know Suzuki tries to overcome this, but I don't necessarily find Suzuki students ahead of traditional ones who start later - even at age 6 or 7 it's much better. Later for boys usually.


I'm sure you're right about 3-year-olds vs. 6-year-olds. When I talked about starting piano at a young age, I was referring to 5 and 6 year olds and not 3-year olds.

But my point is not how young students should start. My point is about the goal of learning piano (at least in my area). It's not to get applause. It's not to get a certificate, or to wow an audience. It's about getting 1-on-1 time with a teacher who is nurturing her excitement to learn new skills. That is exciting, and that is why they take lessons in the first place.

And yes, if they go on stage and perform, and fall short because they are too young, we will still feel proud and applaud. But I think you're missing the point if you think that performing and getting applause was the ultimate goal in the first place.


Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740844
05/30/18 07:29 PM
05/30/18 07:29 PM
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I don't mind agreeing that most 3-year olds shouldn't start piano at that age. Even qualify that by saying I can clearly see that the vast majority shouldn't. But every once in a while there is a Mozart or Alma Deutscher who actually benefit from starting earlier. If, for example, Alma Deutscher had started her piano lessons at 8yo, she would have hardly composed her first full-length German opera at 9 years of age! These examples are few in number, but some of these former prodigies, such as Mozart and Chopin have really given us a lot by their musical gifts. I would not wish that Mozart or Chopin start later, since I really can't predict what would have happened to their gifts if they did. So I am glad that some children do start earlier, because every once in a while it pays off enormously.

I think one of the reasons there is opposition to this is an underlying presumption that there is one way to raise children, educate them, and so on. But different cultures can't even agree on a standard, so clearly there isn't one way. I take this issue a little personally, since when I was in school, I wanted out of school, my principal objected, my parents were traditionalists and wouldn't consent, I was a year too young for emancipation, and so I came close to suing the school system to give me a diploma. Fortunately for me, the college of my choice was accustomed to children like me and decided I didn't need a diploma to be admitted rendering my school's recalcitrance irrelevant and they also gave me a tuition waiver which circumvented the issue of obtaining parental consent. With hindsight, I do realize I brought on myself problems of socialization since my fellow students were 5+ years older than me, but to this day, I see nothing inherently wrong in what I did, even if I might not do it again. I'm glad there are open minded institutions like that who do recognize the individuality of students and accommodate that.

My basic feeling is every child is different, and some probably shouldn't begin music ever and others are possibly good to go at 3yo, and for those, there may be other compensations for some of the fine motor skills they lack. Personally, I believe there many Mozarts out there that never happened because they weren't given the right educational opportunities, including perhaps getting opportunities early enough in life.

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 05/30/18 07:36 PM.

across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2740856
05/30/18 08:51 PM
05/30/18 08:51 PM
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In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I don't mind agreeing that most 3-year olds shouldn't start piano at that age. Even qualify that by saying I can clearly see that the vast majority shouldn't. But every once in a while there is a Mozart or Alma Deutscher who actually benefit from starting earlier. If, for example, Alma Deutscher had started her piano lessons at 8yo, she would have hardly composed her first full-length German opera at 9 years of age! These examples are few in number, but some of these former prodigies, such as Mozart and Chopin have really given us a lot by their musical gifts. I would not wish that Mozart or Chopin start later, since I really can't predict what would have happened to their gifts if they did. So I am glad that some children do start earlier, because every once in a while it pays off enormously.

I think one of the reasons there is opposition to this is an underlying presumption that there is one way to raise children, educate them, and so on. But different cultures can't even agree on a standard, so clearly there isn't one way. I take this issue a little personally, since when I was in school, I wanted out of school, my principal objected, my parents were traditionalists and wouldn't consent, I was a year too young for emancipation, and so I came close to suing the school system to give me a diploma. Fortunately for me, the college of my choice was accustomed to children like me and decided I didn't need a diploma to be admitted rendering my school's recalcitrance irrelevant and they also gave me a tuition waiver which circumvented the issue of obtaining parental consent. With hindsight, I do realize I brought on myself problems of socialization since my fellow students were 5+ years older than me, but to this day, I see nothing inherently wrong in what I did, even if I might not do it again. I'm glad there are open minded institutions like that who do recognize the individuality of students and accommodate that.

My basic feeling is every child is different, and some probably shouldn't begin music ever and others are possibly good to go at 3yo, and for those, there may be other compensations for some of the fine motor skills they lack. Personally, I believe there many Mozarts out there that never happened because they weren't given the right educational opportunities, including perhaps getting opportunities early enough in life.



My sentiments exactly. How many Mozarts, Liszts, Chopins etc...have WE missed out on because they didn't have the opportunity early in life?

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740873
05/30/18 10:48 PM
05/30/18 10:48 PM
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Not many. Even what Mozart wrote at 5, we can do without.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740877
05/30/18 11:09 PM
05/30/18 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Not many.

I agree with the "not many", which is also what I said, but of those which started early and were great, there were some that were truly great.

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Even what Mozart wrote at 5, we can do without.

But you are assuming that Mozart would have had the same cognitive development if he had started music lessons at, say, 8yo instead. But is that necessarily true? We know that at some point, this not true. The brain has greater plasticity the younger you are. Few world-class concert pianists started in their teens, for example. In fact, I might speculate quite the opposite. That had Mozart started later, he would no longer be "Mozart". Of course this can't be proven either, but it is no more speculative than the thesis that Mozart would still be "Mozart" had he started later. That's why I am say I'd rather not take the chance, and so I am glad Mozart (or Chopin, Saint-Saëns, etc) started when they had, because the result was perfect.

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 05/30/18 11:17 PM.

across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740881
05/30/18 11:53 PM
05/30/18 11:53 PM
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I am totally lost in this thread. As I understand the purpose of the teacher section, it is primarily for teachers to help each other in teaching matters, share information on teaching, and so forth. The issue the OP has asked her peers for ideas on is that there is a transfer student who spent a year with another teacher, and this child learned to only play with the right hand. This may be tricky to correct.

I cannot see how the fact of the Mozart siblings, whether Nannerl or Amadeus, can in any way help with this situation. I assume that both children were taught the treble and bass clef and to use both hands, they were taught by their father so there is no situation of transfer students to learn from.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740890
05/31/18 12:26 AM
05/31/18 12:26 AM
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Keystring it turned into a debate about what age to start kids in piano lol.
I thought from what I gathered, it was common for piano teachers to not take kids until 6 years old, because they saw the amount learned when the kid started earlier didn't give an edge over them if they started later in many cases. Was that not something I heard here? Maybe in a Facebook group?


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: keystring] #2740898
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Originally Posted by keystring
I am totally lost in this thread. As I understand the purpose of the teacher section, it is primarily for teachers to help each other in teaching matters, share information on teaching, and so forth. The issue the OP has asked her peers for ideas on is that there is a transfer student who spent a year with another teacher, and this child learned to only play with the right hand. This may be tricky to correct.

I cannot see how the fact of the Mozart siblings, whether Nannerl or Amadeus, can in any way help with this situation. I assume that both children were taught the treble and bass clef and to use both hands, they were taught by their father so there is no situation of transfer students to learn from.

I was only pointing out that contrary to an earlier assertion in this thread, there are children who start as early as 3yo who are very successful adult musicians. And that without certain children starting very young, it's possible we wouldn't have had certain famous historical musicians... (possible, in lower case) And as a consequence, while it might be bad for most young children to start music young, it really shouldn't be made as a blanket statement since there are exceptions. That's all.

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 05/31/18 12:55 AM.

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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2740904
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I asked NOT to be shown videos. They prove nothing. I love Valentina's playing, but she would have been just as good today if she had started at eight. We don't say of famous neurosurgeons, if only they had started their medical studies at 15, they'd be so much farther today. People study things at reasonable ages.

I have heard the five year olds of other teachers play. They look cute. They have no bridge in the hand. Their timing is terrible. They have no finger muscles. They get applause. If that's good enough for a parent, power to you. To me, it's foolhardy.

Start kids when they are ready, and when you feel comfortable starting.

I prefer also to start kids at 6 or 7 most of the time, and not all kids are ready at 6. But I'm most certainly not going to make a rule about it.

At any rate, the topic was about what to do with a young student who only knows the treble clef. I'd like to see that topic returned to.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2740905
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

I was only pointing out that contrary to an earlier assertion in this thread, there are children who start as early as 3yo who are very successful adult musicians. And that without certain children starting very young, it's possible we wouldn't have had certain famous historical musicians... (possible, in lower case) And as a consequence, while it might be bad for most young children to start music young, it really shouldn't be made as a blanket statement since there are exceptions. That's all.

That is also my position.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: keystring] #2740910
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Originally Posted by keystring
I am totally lost in this thread. As I understand the purpose of the teacher section, it is primarily for teachers to help each other in teaching matters, share information on teaching, and so forth. The issue the OP has asked her peers for ideas on is that there is a transfer student who spent a year with another teacher, and this child learned to only play with the right hand. This may be tricky to correct.

But we don't have enough information, so everything we post here is based on mere speculation and (hopeless) extrapolation.

It would be nice if the OP could give us some updates. Or at least more pertinent information.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2740944
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Keep in mind, what they are showing you may not be what they have learned. Rarely do they bring ALL of their books with them (usually just the easy books or the ones they like)

I will tell them that this is the time to show me what they know and ...crickets.

Mom or Dad will be there play this song, play that song...crickets.

Sometimes it takes a few lessons to learn that they have a left hand and know how to use it.

If they actually do know nothing about the left hand, you may have to get creative. You will either need to find a left-hand book (does one exist?) or do a little writing yourself. Can you make up a left hand to go with the right hand? Can you work on broken chords or Alberti patterns?


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2741032
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I was only pointing out that contrary to an earlier assertion in this thread, there are children who start as early as 3yo who are very successful adult musicians.


I've known two guys like that. The thing they have in common is that they walked over to the piano and reached up and pressed keys -- before they could see the tops of them -- because they *wanted* to. And they kept on pressing keys until they could play melodies by ear -- and from that very early age.

One of them died of leukemia four years ago, and the other is by far the best musician I've ever known personally. He's the one who refuses to even try to teach, because he's known it all so very long he doesn't know how he learned it.





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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2741052
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I would begin with having the students do a lot of improvising with only their left hands.The Piano Safari and Hal Leonard Student Piano Library methods have nice teacher accompaniments to go with student improvisations. Or create your own.

Writing bass-clef-only exercises for the students, as AZN suggested, is a good idea.

Also consider re-working fingering in the book(s) they already used, and have them play the same music with their left hands instead of their right.

Or, as Morodiene suggested, just start over in whatever method you prefer. I'd add in supplemental left-hand improvisations and bass clef exercises you've written to give them additional left hand practice.

On another note, I was curious about what the Piano-K method was about--the philosophy the author espouses, and so on. I didn't find anything about the rationale behind using only right hand at first, but see that the left hand gets added in in the second book. Which is way too late, IMO!

The strange thing, though, is that your students spent almost a whole year in just that first book? There are only 12 songs in each of the three levels! Why did it take 12 months to do 12 songs?!

I wonder if they got started in the second book somewhere along the line and couldn't integrate the left hand after whatever length of time they spent on right hand only?

Something just seems really off about all that.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2741088
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I had to go look after reading your post. BOOK 1 is only supposed to take 12 WEEKS not months! It is supposed to be 1 song a week. It sounds like more of a homeschool/home learning book than a teacher-guided book. If that took a year, you are going to have bigger problems on your hands than just a missing left hand.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: NMKeys] #2741100
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Originally Posted by NMKeys
I had to go look after reading your post. BOOK 1 is only supposed to take 12 WEEKS not months! It is supposed to be 1 song a week. It sounds like more of a homeschool/home learning book than a teacher-guided book. If that took a year, you are going to have bigger problems on your hands than just a missing left hand.


Yes, and when I googled the series, somewhere it said it (Book 1, maybe, or the whole 3-book series?) was intended for 2-4-year-olds! These particular students the OP mentions were probably 5 years old when they started--and were going way slower than the recommended pace for toddlers?!

What a waste on so many levels!

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Andamento] #2741158
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Originally Posted by Andamento
Yes, and when I googled the series, somewhere it said it (Book 1, maybe, or the whole 3-book series?) was intended for 2-4-year-olds! These particular students the OP mentions were probably 5 years old when they started--and were going way slower than the recommended pace for toddlers?!

One thing is for certain: At this age, mastery is not guaranteed upon first exposure. A good instructional series would take a cyclic or spiral approach, reiterating the same concepts periodically. Most little ones actually don't mind excessive repetition that would drive us adults crazy beyond belief.

Originally Posted by Andamento
What a waste on so many levels!

Well, for one thing, it's a big money-maker for the publisher. But, on a more practical level, it gives the student a sense of accomplishment, that they actually finished something.

This was my biggest issue with Succeeding at the Piano's first book. It is so dense and L_O_N_G that it takes forever to get through, especially for the slower kids or kids with very little passion for piano to begin with.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: AZNpiano] #2741414
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
This was my biggest issue with Succeeding at the Piano's first book. It is so dense and L_O_N_G that it takes forever to get through, especially for the slower kids or kids with very little passion for piano to begin with.


Yes, SATP Preparatory level is very long. Well, their Prep book that came out in 2010 anyway. They've since (copyright 2014) published an All-In-One Approach containing more books, with fewer pages. Whereas what was four books in the original series before getting to Grade 3 (Preparatory, Grade 1, Grade 2A, and Grade 2B), the All in One series has seven books before Grade 3: Preparatory A, Prep B, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, and 2C.

I haven't used any of the all-in-one SATP books, but the one free sample I received of Prep A had 52 pages to the original series' Prep book's 88. So at least those newer books are shorter, though all-in-one books can have some drawbacks, too.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2743370
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There are 2 types of arrangements you can get students to start using their left hand.
1 type involve melodies that juggle between L & R. A student is still technically playing 1 line of music, just that notes to the L or R of the mid-C will be played with the appropriate hand.
The other type is chords. Before even getting into reading the Bass line in a serious way, you can introduce students to playing music with simple chords. An easy piece like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in C you can add 3 basic chords like C (CEG), F (FAC) & G (GBD). Get the student to play with just the R and then introduce chords a few bars at a time until the student is comfortable filling in the whole song with chords.

After they are comfortable playing with both hands, you can introduce reading the Bass Clef. A student needs to be able to play the R and then the L line separately with accuracy before putting the 2 hands together.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2743509
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano. And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?

I have been rather shocked by the view expressed in this thread that children of five are too young to start piano lessons. I am not a prodigy, I am not a gifted player, I am a moderately competent amateur player. I started lessons at 5 and have been enjoying the piano since then. I cannot see that starting the piano at that age has done me any harm whatsoever. If I had started later I might never have taken to the piano at all.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: David-G] #2743513
06/10/18 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by David-G
I have been rather shocked by the view expressed in this thread that children of five are too young to start piano lessons. I am not a prodigy, I am not a gifted player, I am a moderately competent amateur player. I started lessons at 5 and have been enjoying the piano since then. I cannot see that starting the piano at that age has done me any harm whatsoever. If I had started later I might never have taken to the piano at all.

On the flip side of the coin, I've taught many late-starters (ages 8, 9, and up) who are completely ill-prepared for piano lessons, mentally, physically, or both! Two of the worst students I've ever encountered are cousins who both started piano at age 11.

The best course of action is to refrain from making any generalized statements about age and piano-readiness. It really, really depends on the individual student.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: David-G] #2743543
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by Candywoman
Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano. And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?

I have been rather shocked by the view expressed in this thread that children of five are too young to start piano lessons. I am not a prodigy, I am not a gifted player, I am a moderately competent amateur player. I started lessons at 5 and have been enjoying the piano since then. I cannot see that starting the piano at that age has done me any harm whatsoever. If I had started later I might never have taken to the piano at all.

Typical starting for lessons also has a cultural component. According to the wife, in the countries of the former Soviet Union, 6yo is quite a usual age to start the standard 7yr music school program. She says the end result of 7 yrs is just that you are considered a "proficient" pianist that can play most any score, so in that case, I'd guess this is probably equivalent to ABRSM 8 or RCM 10, or close to that. Keep in mind that until relatively recent times, school prior to the University/Institute in those countries was also only 10 years and not 12, so this just goes to show there is nothing really absolute about a lot of our western assumptions about children and how much they need this or the other thing, or what age is especially good for something or other.

Perhaps one of our Russian readers can either verify or amend what I just said above.

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 06/10/18 10:24 PM.

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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: David-G] #2745121
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David G,
Your experiences are only anecdotal evidence and would not help a pedagogue understand when to teach a young child piano. You seem to think that since nothing bad happened to you for starting earlier that nothing better could have happened to you if you had started later.

I'm glad you succeeded as an amateur, but have you ever considered that the instruction you got may have limited you in some way? Perhaps you could have been a gifted player with proper instruction. Perhaps your parents selected your teacher based on the fact that she taught five year olds. Supposing they had picked a piano teacher who refused to teach anyone under six? Supposing that teacher had been able to get twice as much out of you in your first year of piano instruction? It follows that teachers who are wise in one decision may be wiser in others.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2745140
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Originally Posted by sbsmusik
I just signed up two transfer students .....

We've only had a meet-and-greet lesson so far, but I will see them again next week...

Update? How did it go? smile Any insights yet for teachers who may run into this at some point?

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: David-G] #2745141
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by Candywoman
Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano. And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?

I have been rather shocked by the view expressed in this thread that children of five are too young to start piano lessons. I am not a prodigy, I am not a gifted player, I am a moderately competent amateur player. I started lessons at 5 and have been enjoying the piano since then. I cannot see that starting the piano at that age has done me any harm whatsoever. If I had started later I might never have taken to the piano at all.



I agree with David G. It is shocking to hear "some" of the teachers saying a five year old is too young to begin lessons. It is also encouraging that "other" teachers disagree and say every student is different, and thus you cannot pick an age and say it is too young (or too old?). Again, this is a very good reason for both teachers and prospective students to interview each other or at least have a discussion before beginning lessons.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2745143
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Yes. It is extremely rare to find a five year old student who is able to handle piano lessons. If they are, it doesn't prove the point that a five year old should take lessons. Just wait til they're older, I say. You will achieve everything just as well. If you just wait til they're older, there is less risk of burnout in the student. They do better in far less time. It saves the teacher the behavioural challenges. It saves the parents money and time. In short, it's unwise to teach four and five year olds piano. And don't show me some youtube videos of four year olds. It doesn't mean a thing. Show me where they are at a much later age like eighteen and compare them to other eighteen year olds. Most students don't go beyond eighteen anyhow. I want to see long term gain. Where are all those prodigies? Do they show up at the university in music? No. I didn't see any of them at my university. Often their parents just want their kid's resume to look good for medical school. Do they play the piano as adults?


I'm glad no one told my parents he should wait when I started lessons at the conservatory at 6 years old. I studied piano for 20 years and take master piano lessons when I can.

Steve


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2745145
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Originally Posted by sbsmusik
I just signed up two transfer students .....

We've only had a meet-and-greet lesson so far, but I will see them again next week...

Update? How did it go? smile Any insights yet for teachers who may run into this at some point?

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: keystring] #2745199
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by sbsmusik
I just signed up two transfer students .....

We've only had a meet-and-greet lesson so far, but I will see them again next week...

Update? How did it go? smile Any insights yet for teachers who may run into this at some point?

I think we have collectively scared away another OP.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2747178
06/26/18 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Your experiences are only anecdotal evidence and would not help a pedagogue understand when to teach a young child piano. You seem to think that since nothing bad happened to you for starting earlier that nothing better could have happened to you if you had started later.

Here is a non-anecdotal research, and the results of earlier studies. Both studies show positive effects for children 4-6yo with early music education.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2747374
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Candywoman
Your experiences are only anecdotal evidence and would not help a pedagogue understand when to teach a young child piano. You seem to think that since nothing bad happened to you for starting earlier that nothing better could have happened to you if you had started later.

Here is a non-anecdotal research, and the results of earlier studies. Both studies show positive effects for children 4-6yo with early music education.


Two interesting studies! I have always "heard" this, which is why I started my son on the piano when he was very young. I think it is very important to find a teacher that knows how to teach such young students. For that matter, it is also important for "us" older students to also find a teacher that knows how to teach senior citizens.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2747507
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A lot of my youngest students come with grandparents, not parents, and I teach BOTH at the same time.

I see no difference, really. It's always the same thing. Get them to understand how to find lines and spaces, get fluency. I disagree wish so much that is written about how to teach anyone that I rarely post here any more.

Any skill that challenges the brain and develops new abilities is important, at any age. Not just for children. Learning to do music correctly is a hugely positive thing for everything else.

I don't need studies to tell me I'm right.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2747684
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Multiple studies have shown that children who began musical training before age 5 with a minimum of 15 months of training had a larger corpus collosum than those that didn't. Study on the benefits of early musical training on the corpus callosum (The function of the corpus callosum is to integrate motor, sensory, and cognitive performances between the two halves of the brain contributing significantly to efficient executive function, or the execution and maintenance more generally of complex cognitive abilities.) Other studies have shown that musicians have a 11-25% larger corpus callosum. Musicians have a significantly larger corpus collosum Although this is not necessarily a cause/effect relationship with children who started music lessons early, it is suggestive and food for thought.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2747958
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Here is a non-anecdotal research, and the results of earlier studies. Both studies show positive effects for children 4-6yo with early music education.[/quote]

The first research project was done in Beijing. This is an entirely different culture than what we have here. For starters, they beat their kids to get them to do as they wish. Secondly, the culture supports sacrificing to learn something. Thirdly, we don't know what was taught at the lessons and we don't know if all the same benefits would have accrued if the kids were allowed to play around freely and take piano later, say at the age of seven.

I could only find the abstract for the second study.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2747961
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The third study might be true, but it doesn't answer the question of what sort of musical training is needed in early childhood to get the benefits of a larger corpus callosum, (perhaps they need only sing and dance?) nor lacking this advantage, how a student could catch up in less than one year given the correct teacher.

Finding a good teacher is more critical. After that, practice is the number one consideration: how much, and what quality of practice. You don't have to begin too early to be successful.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2747962
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
The first research project was done in Beijing. This is an entirely different culture than what we have here. For starters, they beat their kids to get them to do as they wish. Secondly, the culture supports sacrificing to learn something. .

Do you speak with Chinese people on a regular basis? Your assumptions reflect VERY outdated constructs.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2748013
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Originally Posted by Candywoman

The first research project was done in Beijing. This is an entirely different culture than what we have here. For starters, they beat their kids to get them to do as they wish. Secondly, the culture supports sacrificing to learn something.


Ouch! I don't think you meant to be offensive with this, but those statements haven't been generally true for decades, if ever. The only family I have left is comprised of my Taiwanese in-laws, and (like many teachers) I get Asian students in my studio. Among my students and their families, and also among my family, even considering the actual "tiger" parents, I only know one person who believes in physical punishments. And while many of these parents do sacrifice for their children's education (a laudable practice, IMHO, if the kid appreciates it), that is certainly not true across the board.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2748040
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by Candywoman

The first research project was done in Beijing. This is an entirely different culture than what we have here. For starters, they beat their kids to get them to do as they wish. Secondly, the culture supports sacrificing to learn something.

...those statements haven't been generally true for decades,

True.

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
...if ever.

Not true.

Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
The only family I have left is comprised of my Taiwanese in-laws...

Also, note Beijing culture is very different from Taiwan culture. Almost like Singapore, they really only share a language and some ancestral roots at this point. (OK, I'm bucking the "One China" people here. LOL.) But this difference doesn't make what you said less true or what Candywoman said more true.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2748073
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I'm speaking of Chinese people in Beijing, not North America.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2748161
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I'm speaking of Chinese people in Beijing, not North America.


It is still NOT true! How long have you lived or worked in China to make these kinds of statements?!

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2748171
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I just went back on this thread. We have ONE unfortunate statement by Candywoman getting all the attention, and the actual things have gotten lost. I suggest the idea be dropped entirely about how kids might have been taught in Beijing and culture of sacrifice, because these seem red herrings and thus unfortunate.

At issue were some studies that were cited. I looked at the "non-anectodal research". it starts off sounding impressive, because the study was done by "MIT". Then right after "piano lessons have a very specific effect on kindergartners' ability to distinguish different pitches, which translates into an improvement in discriminating between spoken words....." Ok, as a trained educator at the primary level, as well as a linguist, I have never heard of pitch awareness helping with language. But then we it's in Beijing where the language is by nature tonal. As usual we have a generalized eye catching title, typical of journalism, and people will go with impressions and miss the facts.

For the corpus callosum - did they put all those young children through CAT scans, once before and once after piano lessons, to determine an size increase?

How about having piano lessons for the purpose of learning to play the piano? At an age where the child is ready to participate, which will vary from child to child.
Originally Posted by Candywoman
Finding a good teacher is more critical. After that, practice is the number one consideration: how much, and what quality of practice.

I can't help but agree with both these points.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2748174
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(Can't edit typos.)

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2748201
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Until the OP decides to come back and provide more information, this thread is just going to veer off topic.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: AZNpiano] #2748203
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Until the OP decides to come back and provide more information, this thread is just going to veer off topic.

You have a point.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: sbsmusik] #2748238
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I have seen other research comparing brain activity (PET scans, maybe, but don't remember for sure) of adults who had music instruction as children with adults who had regular instruction in some other activity.

The studies showed differences related to duration of instruction, but didn't look at the musical skill outcomes of the subjects. I guess there may be parents who enroll their kids in piano lessons with the goal of creating a bigger corpus callosum, but my guess is that most parents want their kid to learn to play piano.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: malkin] #2748243
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Originally Posted by malkin
but my guess is that most parents want their kid to learn to play piano.


Or some similar goal.

I sent my kids to lessons for a specific reason. I wanted them to get the basics of music language at an early age. They hadn't expressed interest, really, but it was my observation that adults I knew who attempted learning an instrument or joining a choir at an advanced age, without the childhood background, really struggled and in fact normally failed. So it was sort of an investment in their possible future. Whether they chose to do anything with it later would be up to them - but the groundwork would have been laid; I did not expect either to achieve any great facility. (I did require practice.)


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: keystring] #2748259
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Originally Posted by keystring
For the corpus callosum - did they put all those young children through CAT scans, once before and once after piano lessons, to determine an size increase?

I guess it was something like that - it sure as heck wasn't dissection! wink


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2748261
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by keystring
For the corpus callosum - did they put all those young children through CAT scans, once before and once after piano lessons, to determine an size increase?

I guess it was something like that - it sure as heck wasn't dissection! wink


US/Canadian longitudinal study: MRIs are used

Brain plasticity -music

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: NobleHouse] #2748265
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Candywoman
I'm speaking of Chinese people in Beijing, not North America.


It is still NOT true! How long have you lived or worked in China to make these kinds of statements?!


Check out this article.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/10/world/asia/china-corporal-punishment-education-discipline.html

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2748277
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Candywoman
I'm speaking of Chinese people in Beijing, not North America.


It is still NOT true! How long have you lived or worked in China to make these kinds of statements?!


Check out this article.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/10/world/asia/china-corporal-punishment-education-discipline.html



Every year I am told by parents of various ethnic backgrounds in the US that they discipline their kids physically and they wish the school would do so as well. As school staff, we suggest other methods.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2748364
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Candywoman
I'm speaking of Chinese people in Beijing, not North America.


It is still NOT true! How long have you lived or worked in China to make these kinds of statements?!


Check out this article.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/10/world/asia/china-corporal-punishment-education-discipline.html


And here is an article talking about how 70% of Americans think it is ok to hit their kids. My only point is that this thought process is not only in China, but throughout most of the world, including the U.S. Doesn't make it right though....

https://www.brookings.edu/research/hitting-kids-american-parenting-and-physical-punishment/

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2748385
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
Finding a good teacher is more critical. After that, practice is the number one consideration: how much, and what quality of practice. You don't have to begin too early to be successful.

I sense a real resistance to the idea that some younger children benefit from early music education. While you may be right in general sense (my 25yo is still not yet ready for piano lessons! haha), I can't see how you can deny that there are those who benefit. Lydie Solomon started at age 2 and was accepted to a conservatory by age 7, and won first prize in the Paris Conservatory at 14. Martha Argerich started piano at age 3 and played her debut concert at 8 with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 1 & Mozart's Piano Concerto No 20. Why do you think it is so impossible that young children might benefit from early music education, and some much more than others? Is it just that it goes against your personal experience? Have you considered that there might just be something off with your personal sample of students?


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2748415
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Over the years I have evolved my own style of teaching based on my "spiritual" belief that music is one of life's great gifts. That to make learning the piano an arduous continuation of regular school work is a sure way to squelch any enthusiasm. And is to me a great tragedy. I want to make the learning process a joy ... for some like a game, for others a goal.

I have been uniquely fortunate that my financial wants are few ( I didn't even have a car until an ex gave me his old one and I learned to drive at 60 ) and apart from the first few years in the US, I have had the freedom to choose my way of teaching and my choice of students. In thirty years I have had only one which I dropped ( diplomatically over the summer vacation) because of her "teen" attitude and lacquered fingernails. I like to think most of my students have had music in their lives in one way or another. Some of the students advanced to teaching in Conservatories and Universities. And many later told me that standing beside the piano as I belted out snippets of a concert level performance hooked them forever. We shared happy happy times together.

My only problem has been parents. And I've weeded most of them out with that first phone interview. I never consented to preparing for the traditional exams .... I consider the first 8 or 9 levels to be a waste of time. Although I do refer to the RCM books which are excellent. I do not give formal recitals. A piano"party" is an alternative. I do not want pressure laid upon my students. What I DO want is for them to learn to read the notes. Above all to READ the notes. Fluently and easily, Because that's the key to enjoying playing the piano way after those lessons are over.

And the age question for me was a personal decision. Unless the child can read and write in his own language, fluently ... he's going to have problems coordinating those notes, with their names and values and fingerings and their time values and the correct pulse and tempo and dynamic. And on and on and on. . Reading music challenges the brain as mere reading and writing a language does not.

An older child will learn MUCH faster and that omnipresent enemy ... which is boredom ... is forestalled. An older child's fingers will be stronger and his hand larger. His attention span will be greater. If a child begins piano at 6 ... and when he's 9, his best friend of the same age, begins lessons ... by 10 and 1/2 they will be at almost the same level. And the one who started later will be much more engaged. Yes I know teachers will howl at me for this. And there ARE exceptional students who can begin much earlier.

But I'm interested in the majority. And I want to share music as a joy .... not another tool for parents' competitive urges. I prefer students to be 6 or 7, fluent in reading their own language and able to sit still for the half hour lesson. And with those parameters I could always promise them a fun lesson. With snatches of concert level music played by me as a reward at the end of the lesson and always allowing them a "dream" piece of music after their regular work. And above all, offering praise and encouragement with humor and above all ..... JOY. grin yippie

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2748422
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It's not so much you sensing a resistance, but rather me having outlined all the reasons why children could and should wait with piano lessons until a reasonable age.

If children take one of those early music programs for four and five- year- olds, as opposed to piano lessons, it might help in one area or another, but it's not necessary. Most commonly it's a way for piano teachers to ensure themselves beginning students before other teachers get a crack at them.

But I'm not going to argue with you anymore. Your argument would be like a 90 year old who has smoked all her life advocating for smoking because she happens to have good health. It might be true in a few isolated cases that smoking can help you age better, but the evidence is in that it will likely be the cause of a great many health problems.

If a parent really wanted their child to have a head start in piano lessons, I think their best bet would be to sing a lot with their children and march around the room in time. Also, they can spend a lot of time valuing music in their home and talking about it, and taking walks out in nature for inspiration.

But ultimately, the secret is in the stars, because doing all this won't guarantee a musically gifted child. The real test is when the child is challenged by his first gifted music teacher and practices with joy. Other components can give a child an edge, like the visual arts. By the same token, having a particularly keen parent who can break problems down on a daily basis could help.

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Candywoman] #2748433
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
It's not so much you sensing a resistance, but rather me having outlined all the reasons why children could and should wait with piano lessons until a reasonable age.

Even if you are right 98+% of the time with this approach of starting later, you miss out on the 2% which could benefit from an earlier start. And perhaps you are not the person to teach that 2%, but maybe there is someone out there to do that.

I don't have a stake in this music argument. My own child was never ready for piano at any age, and I don't think she is ready even now in her 20's. However, extending from music to a non-arts, academic realm, there are people such as my former high school principal who believed children should only go to the university who finished 12 years of school and that if one didn't finish 12 years, by definition, one was not ready for the university, and therefore he should actively oppose any moves to depart from this tried and true model. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as some might think), the university I ultimately attended disagreed with that viewpoint and admitted me 3.5 years "too early" even though my principal refused me a graduating diploma, and then because my parents also were siding with my principal, the university waived my tuition so that I could attend without my parent's active participation in this process.

As you said to David-G, this is at best anecdotal and has no instructive value, and I am not claiming any for my story, but based on that anecdotal experience, I honestly believe that true readiness depends on the individual involved. I am hopeful that there are teachers who would nurture a ready individual, regardless of their specific age -- or else there would be no more anecdotes to the contrary from anyone, everyone being forced to conform to the same instructional mould.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse] #2748464
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Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
Over the years I have evolved my own style of teaching based on my "spiritual" belief that music is one of life's great gifts. That to make learning the piano an arduous continuation of regular school work is a sure way to squelch any enthusiasm. And is to me a great tragedy. I want to make the learning process a joy ... for some like a game, for others a goal.

I have been uniquely fortunate that my financial wants are few ( I didn't even have a car until an ex gave me his old one and I learned to drive at 60 ) and apart from the first few years in the US, I have had the freedom to choose my way of teaching and my choice of students. In thirty years I have had only one which I dropped ( diplomatically over the summer vacation) because of her "teen" attitude and lacquered fingernails. I like to think most of my students have had music in their lives in one way or another. Some of the students advanced to teaching in Conservatories and Universities. And many later told me that standing beside the piano as I belted out snippets of a concert level performance hooked them forever. We shared happy happy times together.

My only problem has been parents. And I've weeded most of them out with that first phone interview. I never consented to preparing for the traditional exams .... I consider the first 8 or 9 levels to be a waste of time. Although I do refer to the RCM books which are excellent. I do not give formal recitals. A piano"party" is an alternative. I do not want pressure laid upon my students. What I DO want is for them to learn to read the notes. Above all to READ the notes. Fluently and easily, Because that's the key to enjoying playing the piano way after those lessons are over.

And the age question for me was a personal decision. Unless the child can read and write in his own language, fluently ... he's going to have problems coordinating those notes, with their names and values and fingerings and their time values and the correct pulse and tempo and dynamic. And on and on and on. . Reading music challenges the brain as mere reading and writing a language does not.

An older child will learn MUCH faster and that omnipresent enemy ... which is boredom ... is forestalled. An older child's fingers will be stronger and his hand larger. His attention span will be greater. If a child begins piano at 6 ... and when he's 9, his best friend of the same age, begins lessons ... by 10 and 1/2 they will be at almost the same level. And the one who started later will be much more engaged. Yes I know teachers will howl at me for this. And there ARE exceptional students who can begin much earlier.

But I'm interested in the majority. And I want to share music as a joy .... not another tool for parents' competitive urges. I prefer students to be 6 or 7, fluent in reading their own language and able to sit still for the half hour lesson. And with those parameters I could always promise them a fun lesson. With snatches of concert level music played by me as a reward at the end of the lesson and always allowing them a "dream" piece of music after their regular work. And above all, offering praise and encouragement with humor and above all ..... JOY. grin yippie




Nice message. Yes, children starting very young may progress much slower, so starting a kid at 4 who is not ready and very special may mean that by age 12 he or she is not much further ahead than another who starts at 7. That said, we want to get them started as soon as they are ready, so it's a judgement call. The flip side is that a very young child may be super excited about something very simple, while an older kid tends to be more impatient about getting to things that are more advanced sounding and thus seem more impressive.

Age six to seven seems about ideal for kids who are ready, but I would never rule out starting earlier for the special ones who are also ready.


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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2748589
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I am hopeful that there are teachers who would nurture a ready individual, regardless of their specific age -- or else there would be no more anecdotes to the contrary from anyone, everyone being forced to conform to the same instructional mould.

I insist on a trial lesson for very young students, but I never rule out that a little one might be ready. If 1000 kids age 4 all start really slowly or make no headway at all, that doesn't mean that #1001 might not be a total outlier.

It is best to keep an open mind and leave things open for exceptions.

And, by the way, your principle was a total idiot.

Last edited by Gary D.; 07/01/18 04:47 PM.

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Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Gary D.] #2748596
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I am hopeful that there are teachers who would nurture a ready individual, regardless of their specific age -- or else there would be no more anecdotes to the contrary from anyone, everyone being forced to conform to the same instructional mould.

I insist on a trial lesson for very young students, but I never rule out that a little one might be ready. If 1000 kids age 4 all start really slowly or make no headway at all, that doesn't mean that #1001 might not be a total outlier.

It is best to keep an open mind and leave things open for exceptions.

And, by the way, your principle was a total idiot.


As a non piano educator, I agree with Gary D. on both points made in his post!

Re: 6-year-old wasn't taught left hand! [Re: Gary D.] #2748598
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Tyrone Slothrop Offline
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Tyrone Slothrop  Offline
Full Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 349
Originally Posted by Gary D.
It is best to keep an open mind and leave things open for exceptions.

thumb

Originally Posted by Gary D.
And, by the way, your principle was a total idiot.

Well, he thought he was looking out for my best interest. I still remember, decades later the phrase he used: "academically mature." "You are not academically mature enough to go to the university." Nearest I can figure out even today is that his idea of academic maturity, whatever that might mean, was tied to chronological age, because what else could it be tied to? Fortunately, my U. also probably did not know what he meant either! laugh

I don't begrudge people doing what they think is best for other people's welfare, but sometimes what they think is right is not, and then if they become obstinate about their perspective on the right thing, well...


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