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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800318
01/09/19 10:13 PM
01/09/19 10:13 PM
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I presume that the OP is assigning pieces to the child to be worked on for the following week, without actually asking the child to sight-read the piece first in front of her, otherwise the student's inability to read the notes would have been detected very early on.

I don't know whether this is a common method among teachers, but I do find it odd. All my four teachers over ten years asked me to sight-read (as best I could, however haltingly) every new piece during the lesson before I was asked to learn and practice it for the following week. That way, any problems in note-reading (not just of the actual notes, but also in rhythm/counting beats) would be noted, as well as potential problem sections in the piece itself, which I would be asked to make sure to practice accordingly.

Otherwise, it would have been easy (in the days before the internet and Youtube existed) for a near-beginner to completely misread and mis-learn parts of the new piece, which the teacher would then have to spend a lot of time un-doing and correcting in the next lesson, thus wasting a lot of time - especially as the student had been learning & playing it wrong for a whole week........


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800322
01/09/19 10:37 PM
01/09/19 10:37 PM
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Really curious why the problem would come up now. Unless you assume the student found a few videos online with all the songs in the Faber book and has been "memorizing" every song in the book before her next lesson so that she can play perfectly by ear but can't tell where the notes are on the page. When the pieces become too complicated to do except by reading she gets all the wrong notes.

I've been thinking why not get a stack of blank cards and draw a staff with a clef and a different note on each. Turn the cards around and give it a good shuffle. Get the child to pick different ones for 5 minutes and play the note that was picked on a piano. If she picked a middle-C, she'd press that note. See how many she can play correctly.

Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800423
01/10/19 09:29 AM
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I am not a piano teacher but I do teach kids with disabilities. It's possible that this is similar to a child who has trouble learning to read. They just can't put the pieces together so they do everything by sight reading the words until the content gets to a level that's too hard for that. If she is 9, she is at a level in school where she needs to use her skills of reading and math to apply them to actually learn new things. This is very stressful for kids with learning disabilities. It could be that she is now dealing with all sorts of school and learning stress and everything is showing up all at once---including in piano.

The other thought I have is that something has changed in her home life in the last few months and it's affecting everything else.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800426
01/10/19 09:37 AM
01/10/19 09:37 AM
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Could dyslexia ever show up as a down-to-up thing instead of a left-to-right thing? Is dyslexia only lateral?


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: bennevis] #2800532
01/10/19 01:33 PM
01/10/19 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I presume that the OP is assigning pieces to the child to be worked on for the following week, without actually asking the child to sight-read the piece first in front of her, otherwise the student's inability to read the notes would have been detected very early on.

I don't know whether this is a common method among teachers, but I do find it odd. All my four teachers over ten years asked me to sight-read (as best I could, however haltingly) every new piece during the lesson before I was asked to learn and practice it for the following week. That way, any problems in note-reading (not just of the actual notes, but also in rhythm/counting beats) would be noted, as well as potential problem sections in the piece itself, which I would be asked to make sure to practice accordingly.

Otherwise, it would have been easy (in the days before the internet and Youtube existed) for a near-beginner to completely misread and mis-learn parts of the new piece, which the teacher would then have to spend a lot of time un-doing and correcting in the next lesson, thus wasting a lot of time - especially as the student had been learning & playing it wrong for a whole week........


bennevis, actually, your assumption is incorrect. I always go over the new pieces with my students, especially when the hand position may change, hands are together for the first time, etc. Most of the new assignments present a new concept. Even after years of lessons, I rarely ever send a student off without reviewing at least the first line or 2 of a piece.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: thepianoplayer416] #2800543
01/10/19 02:09 PM
01/10/19 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Really curious why the problem would come up now. Unless you assume the student found a few videos online with all the songs in the Faber book and has been "memorizing" every song in the book before her next lesson so that she can play perfectly by ear but can't tell where the notes are on the page. When the pieces become too complicated to do except by reading she gets all the wrong notes.

I've been thinking why not get a stack of blank cards and draw a staff with a clef and a different note on each. Turn the cards around and give it a good shuffle. Get the child to pick different ones for 5 minutes and play the note that was picked on a piano. If she picked a middle-C, she'd press that note. See how many she can play correctly.


It is beyond curious to me. I have flash cards. I will make sure she also plays the notes that she reads on each card. Thanks.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: pianosuzemn] #2800544
01/10/19 02:11 PM
01/10/19 02:11 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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Originally Posted by pianosuzemn
I am not a piano teacher but I do teach kids with disabilities. It's possible that this is similar to a child who has trouble learning to read. They just can't put the pieces together so they do everything by sight reading the words until the content gets to a level that's too hard for that. If she is 9, she is at a level in school where she needs to use her skills of reading and math to apply them to actually learn new things. This is very stressful for kids with learning disabilities. It could be that she is now dealing with all sorts of school and learning stress and everything is showing up all at once---including in piano.

The other thought I have is that something has changed in her home life in the last few months and it's affecting everything else.


I've given learning issues and home issues a lot of thought. The parent is almost impossible to communicate with.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800550
01/10/19 02:42 PM
01/10/19 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by bennevis
I presume that the OP is assigning pieces to the child to be worked on for the following week, without actually asking the child to sight-read the piece first in front of her, otherwise the student's inability to read the notes would have been detected very early on.

I don't know whether this is a common method among teachers, but I do find it odd. All my four teachers over ten years asked me to sight-read (as best I could, however haltingly) every new piece during the lesson before I was asked to learn and practice it for the following week. That way, any problems in note-reading (not just of the actual notes, but also in rhythm/counting beats) would be noted, as well as potential problem sections in the piece itself, which I would be asked to make sure to practice accordingly.

Otherwise, it would have been easy (in the days before the internet and Youtube existed) for a near-beginner to completely misread and mis-learn parts of the new piece, which the teacher would then have to spend a lot of time un-doing and correcting in the next lesson, thus wasting a lot of time - especially as the student had been learning & playing it wrong for a whole week........


bennevis, actually, your assumption is incorrect. I always go over the new pieces with my students

I still don't understand how the student could sight-read the new piece you put in front of her, yet cannot read music?

Are you playing it for her, rather than she playing it for you (or is she copying you after you've played it first)?


"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: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800561
01/10/19 03:11 PM
01/10/19 03:11 PM
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I may play through part of a song at performance tempo first, but always have the student read through all or part of a new assignment.

This is why my post starts "At a loss with student" smile


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800622
01/10/19 05:41 PM
01/10/19 05:41 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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bennevis, in reading your post again, I will stop playing the newly assigned pieces for her until such time that her note reading improves. I will only have her sight read thru new pieces. Perhaps I underestimate the ability of kids to remember exactly how I played the piece, given that the majority of my students practice 2 days a week and never go home after a lesson and practice. Many of them don't remember how I've explained (and notated) new concepts (like LH jumping over RH) from one lesson to the next b/c they don't practice ALL of their assignments.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800648
01/10/19 06:40 PM
01/10/19 06:40 PM
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Posts: 8,133
Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
bennevis, in reading your post again, I will stop playing the newly assigned pieces for her until such time that her note reading improves. I will only have her sight read thru new pieces. Perhaps I underestimate the ability of kids to remember exactly how I played the piece, given that the majority of my students practice 2 days a week and never go home after a lesson and practice. Many of them don't remember how I've explained (and notated) new concepts (like LH jumping over RH) from one lesson to the next b/c they don't practice ALL of their assignments.

I once had a transfer student (I was his fifth piano teacher) whose reading lagged behind horrendously. His parents finds Youtube videos to help him play during the week. I told them to stop doing that, because the student just copies whatever is on the video--and some of those videos are AWFUL. I switched him out of Piano Adventures for that reason, but then there are videos of every major method book out there, even the obscure ones. The types of video are those played by other students, with 4 views.

If you can't get the parents to cooperate with you, your efforts will be futile.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800659
01/10/19 07:17 PM
01/10/19 07:17 PM
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Yes, AZN, I agree. BTW, here's my plan: Over the next month, I will focus on sight reading, note writing only. Her assignments will be to review all Level 1 pieces, and on staff paper, notate new notes learned at each lesson, and write a short composition, consisting of those new notes. Do you think I should also get her a different level 1 book? You suggested Piano Safari or Hal Leonard. I can't view Safari online, we may have Leonard in the store.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800671
01/10/19 07:55 PM
01/10/19 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Yes, AZN, I agree. BTW, here's my plan: Over the next month, I will focus on sight reading, note writing only. Her assignments will be to review all Level 1 pieces, and on staff paper, notate new notes learned at each lesson, and write a short composition, consisting of those new notes. Do you think I should also get her a different level 1 book? You suggested Piano Safari or Hal Leonard. I can't view Safari online, we may have Leonard in the store.

Do you have a plan for connecting the written notes to the piano keys?

I remember years ago when Betty was still around, there was a teacher whose transfer student was locked into reading written note names. Betty suggested that the student be gradually weaned by erasing more and more note names, so that the student would gradually associate notes with piano keys. Yours is a different problem. But the thing is that when the student sees the note directly below the first ledger line of the treble clef, her hand should zoom over to the white key between the two blacks in front of her (D). It's like the light turns red and your foot presses the brakes as a single reflex.

Part of piano reading actually is connecting a symbol to a location on the piano. How do we create that connection, and this late in the game?

Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800672
01/10/19 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Her assignments will be to review all Level 1 pieces....

Having had to work out my own reading problems, and helped one other person, I see a problem in reviewing known pieces. You already know the piece, and the whole thing zips through in automatic mode. You become blind to the notes that you never had to see, and still don't need to see. What we found we needed was random notes so that they were unpredictable, and bringing them in gradually. Later I worked with a teacher who had a methodical approach which went very much along those lines. The person I helped discovered that what threw her especially was music she already knew. I had the same experience.

Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800679
01/10/19 08:31 PM
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Keystring, yes, I thought the same thing, but I have pored over other methods in search of finding songs to play so she doesn't lose interest. However some methods focus on note reading by intervals, some introduce bass c to treble c almost from the start of note reading, and I'm concerned that would overload her. I could put her in Level 1 Faber performance book, rather than a different method book.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800699
01/10/19 09:58 PM
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CR, I think composing your own music specially for her would help. Then don't play them for her or put them on YouTube. smile

Last edited by Andamento; 01/10/19 10:06 PM.
Re: AT a loss with student [Re: Andamento] #2800705
01/10/19 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Andamento
CR, I think composing your own music specially for her would help. Then don't play them for her or put them on YouTube. smile

Originally Posted by Andamento
CR, I think composing your own music specially for her would help. Then don't play them for her or put them on YouTube. smile


Do you mean, composing my music? I would assign her to compose her own music, using the notes she has learned at each lesson. She's already written 2 songs.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800707
01/10/19 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by Andamento
CR, I think composing your own music specially for her would help. Then don't play them for her or put them on YouTube. smile

Originally Posted by Andamento
CR, I think composing your own music specially for her would help. Then don't play them for her or put them on YouTube. smile


Do you mean, composing my music? I would assign her to compose her own music, using the notes she has learned at each lesson. She's already written 2 songs.


What I meant was you composing music for her. smile But her composing her own music is good, too.

I wrote more in my previous comment, but decided to PM you instead. You have mail. smile

Re: AT a loss with student [Re: chasingrainbows] #2800773
01/11/19 08:53 AM
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One more thought along the "learning disability" lines... If you find that she is really unable to improve despite your efforts, remember that a learning disability--by definition--means that a person has average or above intelligence. It's not about intelligence. It's about learning. Those are two different things. (And if your methods aren't working, it's not her fault. It just means that she needs different methods). I'm sure you know this, but remember that there are different ways to learn: visual, auditory, kinesthetic. My piano teacher taught me about the FEEL of the black vs white keys, and how to find keys without looking, based only on feel and the spacing between the keys. That's another way to learn. I'm really curious to find out how this whole thing progresses.


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Re: AT a loss with student [Re: keystring] #2800782
01/11/19 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Her assignments will be to review all Level 1 pieces....

Having had to work out my own reading problems, and helped one other person, I see a problem in reviewing known pieces. You already know the piece, and the whole thing zips through in automatic mode.


I've had the same experience.

I discovered that Arbans (a method book for cornet players at a conservatory in France, public domain on IMSLP) has a section called Art of Phrasing with hundreds of little short pieces I'd never heard of. It made good material for trombone. And I'm working through the entire Rooda for recorder now; it is also full of pieces so old I've not run into most of them. Either would work for a beginner learning notes on piano, even though they're only one line. You'd have to pick ones without too many ledger lines.

I have a handbell player in my group with zero musical background, and 2 or 3 years in she still doesn't recognize notes. She writes in letter names and circles her own notes. I know that holds her back from being able to read a part, but she has yet to make much progress. it's hard for adults.


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