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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
AZNpiano #2752243 07/17/18 06:36 PM
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That's a very good point. But it's probably more about the quality of the program and the teachers in the program, less about the program. There are also plenty of private teachers who teach the kids "the wrong way". If there is a piano in the house, a lot of kids also explore it on their own or are guided by parents (most of whom are not piano teachers), and there are many opportunities to get things wrong. :-) My younger child fooled around on the piano on her own for a couple of years before starting formal lessons. Parents definitely should be careful, but of course this can only be to a certain extent.

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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
currawong #2752254 07/17/18 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by currawong
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
As a private teacher who has taken transfer students from these programs, I'd advise parents to stay away from them. Kids don't learn anything; in fact, they "learn" stuff that they can't "unlearn" later. It makes learning piano CORRECTLY that much more difficult later on.
And as a private teacher who has taught classes like this in the past, I’d say that a blanket condemnation of all such programs isn’t fair or helpful. Sure, there may be some useless ones around, where you are perhaps, but where the program is well thought out and designed to introduce and reinforce foundational music concepts they can only be beneficial.

The course I taught didn’t use keyboards of any sort at all, and as the wrong finger technique may be what you’re worried about you may have a point. I used Orff-style tuned percussion, which introduces the idea of a keyboard where up=right and down=left. An introduction to the territory but not instrument-specific. And lots of singing and rhythmic activities. Perhaps some of your unrhythmic students, if you have any ( smile ), may have benefitted from an early exposure to this. We sometimes forget that the simplest (to us) concepts need to be established and developed, not just assumed, and their absence lamented later on.



I found such programs, if done well, were very beneficial to the young children. Exposure to such music and activities at such a young age gives them at least a fun foundation. Then, when they are a bit older, they branch into piano or other instruments. Just my experience, anyway.



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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752265 07/17/18 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by StartwithBach
Yep, ChildofParadise, I suspect these introductory "lessons" are meant as a low-committment exposure to the piano. The idea is that if he shows any interest, they will go the traditional route with a regular teacher and a piano. What I proposed last night (and what I think they have accepted) is the idea that the piano itself needs to come first. I don't want a perceived lack of interest to be based on him meeting with a high schooler for a few days in a month. My worry is that this kind of beginning could set him up for failure. This may not be the right time, but just having a piano in the house could set the stage for the right time later. Anyway, I'm doing my part- I'm working with them to get the piano in the house! I can't force the kid to enjoy the piano, but I certainly want to encourage him as much as I possibly can. Like many of you here, I'm an evangelist for the piano and can't stop touting its wonders and benefits!


Hi
I don't understand why your family is pursuing the idea of a high school student, who does not have the training either to inspire or train a beginning student. If your nephew shows no interest, how will they assess the cause? I am concerned that these beginning lessons, since they are so important, may potentially effect his later interest in music as well. I believe many others here are concerned about the beginning teacher as well.

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
childofparadise2002 #2752285 07/17/18 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by childofparadise2002
That's a very good point. But it's probably more about the quality of the program and the teachers in the program, less about the program. There are also plenty of private teachers who teach the kids "the wrong way".

Fair enough. But I've yet to get one decent transfer student straight out of the kiddie programs. I've gotten two great students who stayed less than a month in that program, went to another teacher, and then came to me well-equipped to learn. It was the private teacher who straightened them out.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
currawong #2752304 07/18/18 02:59 AM
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Originally Posted by currawong
We sometimes forget that the simplest (to us) concepts need to be established and developed, not just assumed, and their absence lamented later on.

Right. And I'm sure a well-run, well-planned teaching curriculum (with capable instructors) will circumvent these problems.

I wasn't aiming at a blanket statement, but, rather, to point out the futility of these programs in my area. And I'm not the only private teacher to lament the lack of teaching going on in these kiddie programs. Among the circle of teachers with whom I regularly communicate, everything I say is common knowledge. The top two complaints are the lack of reading fluency and over-reliance on rote learning.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
AZNpiano #2752340 07/18/18 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

I wasn't aiming at a blanket statement, but, rather, to point out the futility of these programs in my area. And I'm not the only private teacher to lament the lack of teaching going on in these kiddie programs. Among the circle of teachers with whom I regularly communicate, everything I say is common knowledge. The top two complaints are the lack of reading fluency and over-reliance on rote learning.


I must agree with this poster.
The ability and expectations of kids/parents from these groups make them my biggest "transfer wrecks".

The summer piano camps here will spend camp time learning a couple showpieces by rote using finger numbers. They convince them that they are the next little Mozart so they will sign up for more lessons through the year (still play by number type). Mom/Dad doesn't want to drive across town every week so they sign up for private lessons on their side of town (me). They get here and I don't teach by rote or play by numbers. Ooooo, they have to think for their own now, it is different. PRACTICE?! Every day? At home?

My goal for teaching isn't getting the song performance-ready as fast as possible by any means. My goal is to use each teaching song to TEACH the student how to become an independent musician and the output is a nicely played piece.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
dogperson #2752378 07/18/18 11:50 AM
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dogperson, I'm with you- if I had my druthers, I'd be carefully scrutinizing the teacher, what she/he plans to teach, etc. However, my nephew is not my child, so I can only do so much and offer the advice I can. I think a piano is going into the house (a good first step). My hope is that a good teacher follows! I'm not sure if they're continuing the experiment with the high schooler, but I would not want to base his interest or ability on a few sessions with a teenager who would obviously not be trained in piano pedagogy for young ones. That said, I can only offer advice, not command what I want. :-) Thanks to the comments here, I can add that my fellow forum members and avid pianists support my ideas!

Last edited by StartwithBach; 07/18/18 11:51 AM. Reason: mispelled word
Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752381 07/18/18 12:03 PM
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@StartWithBach
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I hope my post of concern did not seem chiding or disrespectful, It was not meant that way; i just want every student to love the piano as much as I did when I started. Music was such a large, wonderful part of my childhood.

I hope you will keep us posted.....and hopefully with great news


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
dogperson #2752392 07/18/18 01:18 PM
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No worries! My nephew's parents had to know I would be active on this issue. I'd love it if the kid became a pianist!

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
AZNpiano #2752444 07/18/18 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I wasn't aiming at a blanket statement, but, rather, to point out the futility of these programs in my area. And I'm not the only private teacher to lament the lack of teaching going on in these kiddie programs. Among the circle of teachers with whom I regularly communicate, everything I say is common knowledge. The top two complaints are the lack of reading fluency and over-reliance on rote learning.
Originally Posted by NMKeys
The summer piano camps here will spend camp time learning a couple showpieces by rote using finger numbers. They convince them that they are the next little Mozart so they will sign up for more lessons through the year (still play by number type).
OK, gotcha. smile It's clear to me now that you're talking about entirely different early childhood music instruction groups from the ones I know here and have experience with, which are not piano classes.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752449 07/18/18 05:56 PM
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Don't children get to learn basic nursery tunes and simple rhythms in kindergarten anymore?

When I was in kindergarten (in a country no-one here knows exist, such is its insignificance), our teachers taught us to sing (and clap rhythmically) songs like This Old Man - even though at that time, we knew no English, and therefore didn't understand a word of what we were singing. Singing together in time and in tune (more or less), clapping rhythmically etc, copying our teacher: all that is basic fun stuff for young kids that needs no special teaching skills to teach. Children learn such skills by osmosis.

And no musical instruments in sight - it was all done by voice and body percussion, and all the better for it.........


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
currawong #2752714 07/20/18 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by currawong
OK, gotcha. smile It's clear to me now that you're talking about entirely different early childhood music instruction groups from the ones I know here and have experience with, which are not piano classes.

Not to belabor the point, but I must point out that some of these kiddie programs are cash cows for the institution. Even if you charge $8 per kid, that's $96 for the hour. You're not going to get anywhere near that amount with private lessons.

They don't care if the kids learn anything. It's all about $$$. Even if these kids get out of the group lesson setting, they get assigned to incompetent "private teachers" at the same institution and pick up more bad habits that are impossible to break. One of my transfer students admitted that she didn't really understand what the teacher is saying because her accent is so strong. I asked how long she's been putting up with that.

Three years.


It's amazing how people are able to put up with incompetence. For such a long period of time.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
bennevis #2752744 07/20/18 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Don't children get to learn basic nursery tunes and simple rhythms in kindergarten anymore?



Perhaps not. I was asked to demonstrate instruments at a local preschool here. I played nursery rhymes that I'd grown up with and tried to make a game of it, getting them to guess the tunes. They didn't know any of them.

Although this was an economically depressed area, the tuition for that preschool would have ruled out anyone below upper middle class, so it's not a socioeconomic issue.


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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
bennevis #2752754 07/20/18 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Don't children get to learn basic nursery tunes and simple rhythms in kindergarten anymore?


They do not here in Austin, TX. All my young students (mostly drawn from the upper middle class) are shockingly ignorant of what I would consider basic nursery rhymes and children's songs. Here in Austin, this is done for political reasons. I'm all for exposing youngsters to material from many different cultures, but it seems as if we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

I'm lucky if my students know Mary Had a Little Lamb. Some of them come to me knowing who Vivaldi was, but they don't know Mary Had a Little Lamb.


Austin Rogers, PhD
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Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
bennevis #2752805 07/20/18 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Don't children get to learn basic nursery tunes and simple rhythms in kindergarten anymore?

When I was in kindergarten (in a country no-one here knows exist, such is its insignificance), our teachers taught us to sing (and clap rhythmically) songs like This Old Man - even though at that time, we knew no English, and therefore didn't understand a word of what we were singing. Singing together in time and in tune (more or less), clapping rhythmically etc, copying our teacher: all that is basic fun stuff for young kids that needs no special teaching skills to teach. Children learn such skills by osmosis.

And no musical instruments in sight - it was all done by voice and body percussion, and all the better for it.........

What you described is very Kodály - using your culture's folk songs and using your voice/body. Too often, kids are not getting enough of this at school/home and when tasked with playing a separate instrument and deciphering notation, first you have to get over the hurdle of lack of musical foundation. If you have to teach keeping a beat, feeling rhythm, identifying high sound and low sound, and so on basic elements of music that they haven't absorbed through life experience, then the piano/violin/whatever ends up being secondary. A child in Hungarian-style kindergarten including classroom music from age 3 to 6 (and a culture that values music education) will of course be super ready for actual lessons at age 6.

I taught K/1st/2nd "violin" at a private school where a LOT of kids were Indian or otherwise from other European and Asian expat/immigrant families (read: high income). Not surprisingly, they had no prior exposure to the typical American nursery rhymes and songs. Group violin at that age is about as useful (not) as those programs that AZN bemoans, so I told the school up front we would do singing/movement/solfege/notation in addition to violin. Eventually, my class was cancelled in favor of the other music class, which I heard from other teachers was basically singing along with a guitarist. They thought the kids learned more in my class, but I suspect it wasn't what the management wanted, that the kids weren't playing enough violin (never mind that they would have been "playing with" violins as toys, not "playing violin", just as plunking out sounds at the keyboard is not "playing piano").

This and other experiences led me to start a kiddie class as a feeder program for my private lessons, where I get to teach what they need for future lessons with me. If parents don't value pre-instrument preparation, they can go to an institution that will tell them what they want to hear...

Side note - the reason children violin beginners are told to get a cheap violin is they aren't doing much with it and it's less of a headache if it gets broken, same misguided notion as let's "try out an occasional piano lesson" or let's get a better one when they like it. Well, without proper support and equipment to begin with, you know what happens to whatever interest might have been there. And then parents are glad they didn't spend too much money/time because it looks like the child didn't "like it" after all.

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
Dr. Rogers #2752835 07/20/18 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by bennevis
Don't children get to learn basic nursery tunes and simple rhythms in kindergarten anymore?


They do not here in Austin, TX. All my young students (mostly drawn from the upper middle class) are shockingly ignorant of what I would consider basic nursery rhymes and children's songs. Here in Austin, this is done for political reasons. I'm all for exposing youngsters to material from many different cultures, but it seems as if we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

I'm lucky if my students know Mary Had a Little Lamb. Some of them come to me knowing who Vivaldi was, but they don't know Mary Had a Little Lamb.

If I get children who know about Vivaldi, I don't have to suffer through Mary Had a Little Lamb. So why should I care?

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
Dr. Rogers #2752836 07/20/18 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Originally Posted by bennevis
Don't children get to learn basic nursery tunes and simple rhythms in kindergarten anymore?


They do not here in Austin, TX. All my young students (mostly drawn from the upper middle class) are shockingly ignorant of what I would consider basic nursery rhymes and children's songs. Here in Austin, this is done for political reasons. I'm all for exposing youngsters to material from many different cultures, but it seems as if we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

I'm lucky if my students know Mary Had a Little Lamb. Some of them come to me knowing who Vivaldi was, but they don't know Mary Had a Little Lamb.

If I get children who know about Vivaldi, I don't have to suffer through Mary Had a Little Lamb. So why should I care?

Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
Dr. Rogers #2752837 07/20/18 02:24 PM
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When I was in 6th grade we had to learn:
http://www.songsforteaching.com/orchestrainstrumentsong.htm

First thing it says is that children love it. My general music teacher sent a note home saying that I need to learn to appreciate music. I was already playing Chopin and Rachmaninov.

I want more kids like me. I don't want to teach nursery rhymes.

Last edited by Gary D.; 07/20/18 02:26 PM.
Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
Gary D. #2752843 07/20/18 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
If I get children who know about Vivaldi, I don't have to suffer through Mary Had a Little Lamb. So why should I care?


When I say they know who Vivaldi was, what I mean is that they learned a list of composers and maybe the the names of one or two of their most famous works. Playing them on an instrument, or understanding those works, however...

Originally Posted by Gary D.
When I was in 6th grade we had to learn:
http://www.songsforteaching.com/orchestrainstrumentsong.htm

First thing it says is that children love it. My general music teacher sent a note home saying that I need to learn to appreciate music. I was already playing Chopin and Rachmaninov.

I want more kids like me. I don't want to teach nursery rhymes.


I remember hating that song in sixth grade as well. Same situation as you, except the music teacher knew that I was a pianist and sometimes had me play for the class.

I don't teach nursery rhymes as a general rule, but I often use Mary and similar stuff as an introduction to improv. All my adult students know these things, but some of my young students have come to me not knowing a single song or bit of doggerel.


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Cedar Park, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko"
Re: Encouraging 6 Year Old Student
StartwithBach #2752904 07/20/18 10:49 PM
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You are making me realize that the first piece I've learned to play on an instrument of my entire life was that Mary had a little lamb, on the recorder.
What I've just noticed is that I don't know the lyrics of this piece and that I'm not sure there is a French version of it (I'm a native French speaker). I only learnt that piece when I learn the recorder, at 8 years old.

I guess it is because it is hard to find a simpler piece than that one. I don't know the lyrics, but I definitely remember the notes.

(But there are clearly some other easy pieces out there that could have been used... so I'm not sure about my hypothesis. I don't know if that piece has an English equivalent.)


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- Mozart, K545, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
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- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
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