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please advise the parent of a young piano student #2813795
02/11/19 09:04 PM
02/11/19 09:04 PM
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parent_helper Offline OP
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Hi all,

I am the parent of a 7 year old who is currently learning Faber Adventures 3A. My child requires a lot of help from me each week to sit next to her and count the beats out for her. She gets 3 pieces per week as homework, and cannot sight reading them on her own. Her teacher does not have time to get through all 3 pieces during the 30 minute lesson because she has trouble playing through the pieces after her teacher plays them for her. When we get home, we go through the pieces very slowly one hand at a time until she can play them herself and count on her own. This has gone on for almost 2 years now (starting from prep level). She can read notes ones at a time, but does not fully understand that left hand and right hand work do different things.

My question is, does this mean the piano is not for her? Am I not helping her the right way? Should she quit? Should I be forcing her to sight read everything (tried that, she did not know what to do when she is not told what to do). Or is learning by rote a perfectly fine way to learn to play? After practicing 100 times per piece and counting it out very slowly, she can play pretty well. Is that good enough?

The reason I am concerned is, her teacher is starting to get impatient with her, and that brought me a lot of stress. I used to think it'll take as a long as it takes. But now it seems like I am just a crutch.

Please advise and thanks in advance.

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Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813796
02/11/19 09:07 PM
02/11/19 09:07 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 3,847
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by parent_helper
Hi all,

I am the parent of a 7 year old who is currently learning Faber Adventures 3A. My child requires a lot of help from me each week to sit next to her and count the beats out for her. She gets 3 pieces per week as homework, and cannot sight reading them on her own. Her teacher does not have time to get through all 3 pieces during the 30 minute lesson because she has trouble playing through the pieces after her teacher plays them for her. When we get home, we go through the pieces very slowly one hand at a time until she can play them herself and count on her own. This has gone on for almost 2 years now (starting from prep level). She can read notes ones at a time, but does not fully understand that left hand and right hand work do different things.

My question is, does this mean the piano is not for her? Am I not helping her the right way? Should she quit? Should I be forcing her to sight read everything (tried that, she did not know what to do when she is not told what to do). Or is learning by rote a perfectly fine way to learn to play? After practicing 100 times per piece and counting it out very slowly, she can play pretty well. Is that good enough?

The reason I am concerned is, her teacher is starting to get impatient with her, and that brought me a lot of stress. I used to think it'll take as a long as it takes. But now it seems like I am just a crutch.

Please advise and thanks in advance.

You might want to re-post this on the Piano Teacher's Forum.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813798
02/11/19 09:12 PM
02/11/19 09:12 PM
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Posts: 41
U.K.
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Deckie Offline
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I don’t know anything about teaching methods but I wouldn’t necessarily say that the piano isn’t for her. Sounds as though motivation may be a problem, I think the most important thing is that she is given the type of music to play that she enjoys playing (rather than from a standard tutor book). Otherwise practicing is going be a chore for her and she will give the piano up at the earliest opportunity. If the teacher isn’t doing this or even trying to find out what she enjoys playing I would find another teacher.

Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813805
02/11/19 09:23 PM
02/11/19 09:23 PM
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parent_helper Offline OP
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Oh okay. Thanks Tyrone Slothrop.

Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813817
02/11/19 09:51 PM
02/11/19 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by parent_helper
Hi all,

I am the parent of a 7 year old who is currently learning Faber Adventures 3A. My child requires a lot of help from me each week to sit next to her and count the beats out for her. She gets 3 pieces per week as homework, and cannot sight reading them on her own. Her teacher does not have time to get through all 3 pieces during the 30 minute lesson because she has trouble playing through the pieces after her teacher plays them for her. When we get home, we go through the pieces very slowly one hand at a time until she can play them herself and count on her own. This has gone on for almost 2 years now

IMO, there has been something amiss with her teaching, probably right from her first teacher.

This was what you posted in 2017:

I read another posting on this site that suggests many piano teachers think very highly of rote teaching, and unfortunately after my recent experience, I am not sold on its merits.

You were right. How long has she been taught by rote for?

Even adults taught this way get so used to it that they never learn to read properly, let alone young children......


"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: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813818
02/11/19 09:56 PM
02/11/19 09:56 PM
Joined: Jul 2017
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parent_helper Offline OP
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Hi bennevis,

Thanks for writing back. The post is 2017 is for child #1. Per advice from forum members, child #1 is thriving and handling his own piano practice.

This is child #2. She is completing her 2nd year being taught by rote; she has only ever had 1 teacher, always by rote. I had started to think maybe some students thrive on rote learning, because she doesn't complain about piano practice at home. But with her teacher getting impatient, and me not knowing how to help at home, I turned to this forum.

Please keep the advice coming. Thanks.

Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813842
02/11/19 11:17 PM
02/11/19 11:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,749
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline
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It doesn’t sound like your very young daughter is having a positive experience.

I have several questions for you:

Why did she start lessons at 5 years old? Unless she is an extremely gifted child protégé, (and she doesn’t sound like one,) 5 years old, even 7 years old, is probably too young.

Why isn’t she being taught to read music?

Why is she working on 3 pieces in a 30 minute lesson? That sounds like way too much for a 7 year old to handle.

Was the reason for starting lessons your daughter’s choice or yours? Does she want to do this or is it something you want her to do and if so, why?

There are several possible explanations why she is learning so slowly. She might not like it. She might be resisting learning so you will spend more time with her. She might need a different teacher. She might need to be taught the important skill of learning on her own, without a coach constantly at her side.

I suggest you sit down and have a candid conversation with her teacher. Find out why she is becoming impatient. You also should ask yourself, who is driving the lessons? It should be your daughter.







Best regards,

Deborah
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813855
02/12/19 12:16 AM
02/12/19 12:16 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,220
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Is your daughter inherently musical? Does she like to sing (i.e., can she carry a tune and sing along to an instrumental accompaniment)? Does she like to dance? Can she clap or tap out different rhythmic patterns and/or keep a steady beat? There is more to playing the piano than simply reading notes on a page. Perhaps you should expose her to the basic elements of music making for a time and see if she really has a natural aptitude for it. If yes - then you can decide what instrument she might be best suited to study - or she might do better in choral music (is there a children's chorus in your community?). I'm glad to hear that child #1 is doing so well with his piano lessons. Every child is different.


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Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813867
02/12/19 01:51 AM
02/12/19 01:51 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 434
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Originally Posted by parent_helper
her teacher is starting to get impatient with her, and that brought me a lot of stress. I used to think it'll take as a long as it takes.

For me, this is the important part of your message. You have exactly the right attitude, but the teacher does not. If I were you, I would try to talk with the teacher about this, without your daughter present of course. And if talking about it doesn't help, I would start looking for another teacher for your child - ideally one who has a larger variety of methods for teaching young children. But those are hard to find.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: Animisha] #2813886
02/12/19 03:27 AM
02/12/19 03:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,985
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Animisha
I would start looking for another teacher for your child - ideally one who has a larger variety of methods for teaching young children. But those are hard to find.

How would you know that for a fact? It depends on where the OP lives. In some places, there are tons of piano teachers who are very capable of teaching young children. Including those who live within a 20-mile radius of me, I can name about 40 of them right off the top of my head.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813887
02/12/19 03:38 AM
02/12/19 03:38 AM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 402
Ireland
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I'm echoing what others have said - this is about your daughter, not the teacher. Is she having fun? Does she want to learn the piano? Where is the playful element in all this? Jeez, I was taught in the 70s, and they made it fun back then - surely paedagogics have advanced since then and realised that an element of play ensures both motivation and better learning/retention with small children, as this is how they naturally learn pretty much everything.

If she wants to continue, she needs to learn music, and then learn to play by music. Sight reading is overrated in my opinion, if it takes her longer to translate the music on the paper to what she does with her hands, then so be it, but she's got to learn to do this, by herself but with (patient) support.


Sibylle

My piano background

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813904
02/12/19 05:01 AM
02/12/19 05:01 AM
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 16
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parent_helper Offline OP
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Thank you so much for your suggestions!

My daughter and I are busy enough each day that there hasn't been time to just sit and listen to music or sing. She is not particularly musical, she cannot sing, and I had thought that learning to play music by sitting in front of the piano was the most direct method. I had forgotten how much time I spent listening to music and singing in my youth, and how much fun it was.

I only offered her piano lessons because it didn't seem fair to pay for her older sibling's lessons and not hers. I really wish I had known sooner that helping her read music was not the way to go. I will talk to her teacher about maybe getting some lower level pieces to help her learn to read music, so she can move forward on her own steam. Since she is always happy to practice at home, I don't think she dislikes piano yet, maybe just the material.

Thanks again for your candid responses.

Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813909
02/12/19 05:19 AM
02/12/19 05:19 AM
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Scotland
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Hi parent_helper! I’m going to echo some of what has been said already but from the perspective of a parent of two. I’m very musical myself and would have dearly loved one or both of my children to play an instrument but for a long time it seemed that it was not to be. My son started on the cornet at school at about your daughter’s age but we stopped the lessons after a couple of terms because he wasn’t practising at all. My daughter started group keyboard lessons with the local community music initiative but she was bored by it. I began to despair. But...

My son, now 12, has found an interest in guitar after some trial lessons at school and is now starting with a private teacher. This came from enjoying the guitar riffs in a lot of the music he listens to. My daughter still doesn't have the patience to sit and learn an instrument but is enjoying musical theatre and jazz dance and is learning lots of musical skills that way. Both children have been fascinated to look inside the mechanics of the piano recently as I’ve been poking around investigating a dodgy pedal, to the point that my son asked me last night to teach him something.

The point is that children come to music in a huge number of different ways and at different times. I think our job as parents is to ensure those opportunities are available and maximised. Sitting at a piano learning to read music is absolutely not the only way to develop a life long appreciation and knowledge of music, but with the wrong teaching it’s an excellent way to have the opposite effect.

Hope this helps?


“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: AZNpiano] #2813930
02/12/19 06:57 AM
02/12/19 06:57 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 434
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Animisha
I would start looking for another teacher for your child - ideally one who has a larger variety of methods for teaching young children. But those are hard to find.

How would you know that for a fact? It depends on where the OP lives. In some places, there are tons of piano teachers who are very capable of teaching young children. Including those who live within a 20-mile radius of me, I can name about 40 of them right off the top of my head.

You are right AZNpiano, I don't know that.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813965
02/12/19 08:52 AM
02/12/19 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by parent_helper


This is child #2. She is completing her 2nd year being taught by rote; she has only ever had 1 teacher, always by rote.

If your child #1 is thriving with his teacher, why not switch #2 to that teacher at the earliest opportunity? I assume #2 isn't being taught by rote.

Parents should not be making up for teachers' deficiencies at their job. Incidentally, I also agree with others that she was probably too young to start lessons at 5, unless she asked for them, or tried to copy what her brother was playing on the piano.

My parents were totally, completely, utterly unmusical, and our home was devoid of music, but luckily my teacher knew how to teach (I was ten when I started lessons). And never by rote. As I wrote elsewhere, she never played any piece for me and then asked me to copy her. Without developing reading skills, I'd never have been able to learn anything.


"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: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813976
02/12/19 09:33 AM
02/12/19 09:33 AM
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Zaphod Offline
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Yeah I'd think that a teacher getting "impatient" with a seven year old would ring alarm bells. I mean, different if the seven year old constantly gets jam (jelly to you Yanks) on the teacher's Steinway keyboard or something.

It does sound all a bit much for a seven year old. I would tend to agree with goodog's post here.

It must be difficult being a parent in this situation with such a young kid because on the one hand you don't want to push them too hard, because of their age, but on the other hand you want to give them a fair shot at advancing if indeed they are particularly talented.

Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: parent_helper] #2813990
02/12/19 10:17 AM
02/12/19 10:17 AM
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Posts: 5,749
Seattle area, WA
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OT but in the US, jelly and jam are not interchangeable. Jelly is made from stained, jelled fruit juice. Jam is made from crushed fruit pulp and preserves are made with large or whole chunks of fruit. None should be eaten near a Steinway but it’s okay if the piano is a Yamaha...(running for cover) laugh


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: gooddog] #2813996
02/12/19 10:32 AM
02/12/19 10:32 AM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by gooddog
OT but in the US, jelly and jam are not interchangeable. Jelly is made from stained, jelled fruit juice. Jam is made from crushed fruit pulp and preserves are made with large or whole chunks of fruit. None should be eaten near a Steinway but it’s okay if the piano is a Yamaha...(running for cover) laugh

I remember as a kid in my home country spreading a concoction of a peanut butter/blueberry jelly spread on bread as a treat when visiting my uncle (who had just toured the US and raved about the Grand Canyon and Disneyland.....but let's not elaborate: I'll just say that after I grew up, I hiked on one and avoided the other like the plague....) in my home country. It was a very expensive US import, therefore to be used sparingly.

Suffice out to say that I always tried to separate the jelly out and generously gave it to my sister instead......(I was a generous kid wink ).


"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: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: gooddog] #2814001
02/12/19 10:37 AM
02/12/19 10:37 AM
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Zaphod Offline
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Originally Posted by gooddog
OT but in the US, jelly and jam are not interchangeable. Jelly is made from stained, jelled fruit juice. Jam is made from crushed fruit pulp and preserves are made with large or whole chunks of fruit. None should be eaten near a Steinway but it’s okay if the piano is a Yamaha...(running for cover) laugh


Forgive me, Madam. I appear to be a culinary ignoramus blush.

Re: please advise the parent of a young piano student [Re: Zaphod] #2814009
02/12/19 10:59 AM
02/12/19 10:59 AM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,749
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline
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Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by gooddog
OT but in the US, jelly and jam are not interchangeable. Jelly is made from stained, jelled fruit juice. Jam is made from crushed fruit pulp and preserves are made with large or whole chunks of fruit. None should be eaten near a Steinway but it’s okay if the piano is a Yamaha...(running for cover) laugh


Forgive me, Madam. I appear to be a culinary ignoramus blush.
laugh


Best regards,

Deborah
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