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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Gary D. #2816234 02/16/19 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by bennevis

To be frank, IMO, any teacher who let this happen has no business teaching. I certainly know what I'd say to such a teacher who let this happen to my child.......

I'd say the same thing you would say. "You don't know what you're doing."


I'm pretty sure a musically aware parent would not let this happen in the first place.

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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Piano*Dad #2816250 02/16/19 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by bennevis

To be frank, IMO, any teacher who let this happen has no business teaching. I certainly know what I'd say to such a teacher who let this happen to my child.......

I'd say the same thing you would say. "You don't know what you're doing."

I'm pretty sure a musically aware parent would not let this happen in the first place.

From what the OP has said, the OP seems musically aware and is just trying to help their child have a good experience.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
parent_helper #2816252 02/16/19 05:00 PM
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My daughter works very hard, and is more than willing to practice is with me daily, even if it's just copying step by step. The practice goes slowly, but she never shows up to class unrehearsed.


I rest my case (pun intended).

Parent_Helper asked if she was possibly not helping in the right way. I think the short answer is, "yes."

But that doesn't get the teacher off the hook, in my "Level I" book. smile

Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Gary D. #2816294 02/16/19 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

Again, I'm not saying that what has been talked about is accurate. I've had students learn nothing from me because they never do anything I ask, and I get zero backup from the parents. This usually does not last long because I lose patience and end those lessons. I did not become a teacher to waste my time and energy trying to help people who are too lazy, arrogant or stubborn to listen to me.

I could have written this. A bit OT - but do you dismiss these students when you see there's no reaching these kids/parents? How long do you try?


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Tyrone Slothrop #2816346 02/16/19 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by bennevis

To be frank, IMO, any teacher who let this happen has no business teaching. I certainly know what I'd say to such a teacher who let this happen to my child.......

I'd say the same thing you would say. "You don't know what you're doing."

I'm pretty sure a musically aware parent would not let this happen in the first place.

From what the OP has said, the OP seems musically aware and is just trying to help their child have a good experience.
Nobody has said this is a good teacher. But. How could a musically aware (or unaware) parent not know something isn't working (their child can't read notes) and never talk to the teacher or sit in on a lesson? This is not 100% on the teacher.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Morodiene #2816395 02/16/19 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by Gary D.

Again, I'm not saying that what has been talked about is accurate. I've had students learn nothing from me because they never do anything I ask, and I get zero backup from the parents. This usually does not last long because I lose patience and end those lessons. I did not become a teacher to waste my time and energy trying to help people who are too lazy, arrogant or stubborn to listen to me.

I could have written this. A bit OT - but do you dismiss these students when you see there's no reaching these kids/parents? How long do you try?

Think of it this way: I can only teach so many students without burn-out. The more I have to deal with people who do not listen, the less time I have for the people who care. So no, it is NOT "OT". It is fair to me, and it is fair to the other students I work with. There are situations in which - as you very well know - you have a great kid with a parent who is impossible. If the parents pay, I'm sure you do what I do - try to protect the child. It's a great kid, you know the kid is trying, and cares, and likes to come to lessons. You are not going to take out on the kid the fact that the parent is irresponsible - in general this means never talking to me, no responding to messages, regularly showing up to lessons when they are half over - and lying. One parent told me she had the flu, but I teach the cousin, who told me, flat out, she made other plans, forgot about the lesson and lied. I like the son, but guess how much support I get from this mother?

Such parents do everything possible to destroy what we are trying to do, but it's not the fault of the young student.

When I end lessons it is because of a combination of parental behavior and a student coming in week after week doing nothing I ask for when I've written clear directions a 7 year-old could follow. That's a no win situation. The child is learning nothing, I get acid in my stomach, and I have to apologize to the next student for being almost hostile. I have to say, "I'm really aggravated. I'll try to forget about the last lesson. You are a good student, and it's not your fault."

Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Stubbie #2816406 02/17/19 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Nobody has said this is a good teacher. But. How could a musically aware (or unaware) parent not know something isn't working (their child can't read notes) and never talk to the teacher or sit in on a lesson? This is not 100% on the teacher.

Some people have an extremely high tolerance level for pain.

For the same reasons, I can't believe there are actually parents who would send their kids to piano teachers, and be asked to teach their kids note reading. If the parents are stupid enough to fall into that trap, they deserve to suffer.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Stubbie #2816408 02/17/19 12:57 AM
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Stubbie, I have been taking lessons for 5 years. One evening a parent was talking with me while he was waiting for his son to finish and I was waiting for my lessons. I asked him, who teaches your child, he said "its the black guy, I don't know his name." I thought, you are really not involved in your child's education. My parents knew my teachers name, my assignments, and listened to me practice.

Just wanted to share.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
bennevis #2816536 02/17/19 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Morodiene
As chasing rainbows pointed out, it's very possible that the teacher is befuddled at this seemingly sudden inability for the student to read music, when in fact, they never could. .

As I said earlier, the teacher would have known that from the first few lessons, if only she had got the child to sight-read every new piece she was teaching at every lesson. Even if the 'piece' is only a few measures of three different notes.

I really don't understand why that is such an odd concept for any teacher. Surely that's how you can assess the student at every lesson - as to whether basic concepts (including of course note-reading) have been learnt and understood?

By the time it's discovered (by accident, two years later) that the child actually never learnt to read music, it's far too late. The child is too far set in her ways, and will probably never ever learn to read music successfully.

To be frank, IMO, any teacher who let this happen has no business teaching. I certainly know what I'd say to such a teacher who let this happen to my child.......


bennevis, this was only a brief synopsis of my experience with one student in the 20+ years I have been teaching. I have explained in my own thread all the steps taken with this child from the onset. I certainly did run through every newly assigned piece with this student, and all of my beginning students, at least through Level 2B. To say that I or the OP's child's teacher has no business teaching is insulting and baseless.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
parent_helper #2816541 02/17/19 12:44 PM
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In my student's case, the parent is never seen before or after the lesson. She recently started texting me after the lesson (during the next student's lesson) for a "progress report."

Unbeknownst to me, over the prior 2 years, parent would use YouTube and make her child practice until the song was learned as shown on YouTube. It wasn't until some warning signs appeared at the end of her lesson book (as notes expanded) that she no longer could sight read, I immediately notified the parent. The parent still does not have the time to sit in on a lesson. Shopping is her priority. It's on me and I am constantly finding new ways to help her.

One of the reasons I am reluctant to post concerns on PW is because there are always the few Judges who come down from their lofty thrones and blame teachers and assume that teachers should "know" what's going on. How was I to know the parent was teaching her child this way? As soon as I saw a problem, I tackled it and she is making progress.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
chasingrainbows #2816579 02/17/19 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Unbeknownst to me, over the prior 2 years, parent would use YouTube and make her child practice until the song was learned as shown on YouTube. It wasn't until some warning signs appeared at the end of her lesson book (as notes expanded) that she no longer could sight read,

That parent probably uses Youtube to "preview" the pieces ahead of the lesson! So that the "sight reading" the child does in front of you is actually rehearsed previously.

Right now, the only kids in my studio who CAN'T sight read their new pieces are:

1) Transfer Wreck No. 93 from kiddie program that taught rote learning. I can't deprogram her. She will spend eternity in level 2A. Maybe her parents should sue the kiddie program for gross incompetence.

2) A student with a documented eye problem, whose parents don't do anything to help resolve that. As if it would just go away by itself. He can read notes, but VERY slowly.

3) A student with severe fine-motor issues and probably some undiagnosed ADD problem. And probably not very smart.

4) An "advanced" Transfer Wreck whose previous teacher teaches by demonstration. Now I FORCE her to read.

Otherwise, my job is really easy. All the other students can find their own hand positions and read their own notes--some do it extremely fast and can sight read AT level. I can't believe some teachers actually want to spoonfeed every single note to students. It's moronic. And if parents do that at home to spoonfeed notes to their kids every single day, that's even more moronic.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
parent_helper #2816609 02/17/19 03:14 PM
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I came into my first ever lessons on another instrument with some tricks that resembled reading, and were part of reading, but were not real reading. I didn't know it was not real reading. It took three years to figure this out, because I came in playing any assigned music correctly. What complicated my case is that I could anticipate where simpler music was likely to go, and was playing by imagination-ear and some sense of intervals. If at any time my teacher had pointed to a random note on the page, I would not have been able to play it. Had that teacher said "play C#, chances are, that I would not have been able to play it. I learned, in discussing this with later teachers, that there are ways to check, because what a student comes in playing after a week of practise may hide reading weaknesses.

As a student who has had to turn this around, I can say that it is quite hard to do so.

Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
chasingrainbows #2816621 02/17/19 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
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bennevis, this was only a brief synopsis of my experience with one student in the 20+ years I have been teaching. I have explained in my own thread all the steps taken with this child from the onset. I certainly did run through every newly assigned piece with this student, and all of my beginning students, at least through Level 2B. To say that I or the OP's child's teacher has no business teaching is insulting and baseless.

You seem to keep misunderstanding what I wrote - repeatedly.

This is what I wrote:

......the student must read any new piece in front of the teacher (no matter how slowly, no matter how ineptly), who should not - under any circumstances - play the piece first for the student, just to "show" the student how the piece should "sound".


Then again:

As I said earlier, the teacher would have known that (the student can't read music) from the first few lessons, if only she had got the child to sight-read every new piece she was teaching at every lesson. Even if the 'piece' is only a few measures of three different notes.

I really don't understand why that is such an odd concept for any teacher. Surely that's how you can assess the student at every lesson - as to whether basic concepts (including of course note-reading) have been learnt and understood?



Did you ever just put a new piece in front of your student and ask her to read it there and then - without you guiding her in any way? (That's the way sight-reading tests are conducted, BTW).

If you have, you'd have known that she couldn't read music - from very early on, not two years later.

If what you do is "run through" the pieces with her, you haven't given her the chance to show you whether she can actually read and play the music without your help.

How does an English teacher know whether a child can read? By asking him to read a text that he's never seen before and never heard before, not by 'running through' the text with him.

That's what a music teacher should do with every new piece she wants the child to learn - by getting the child to sight-read the new piece first, without any input from her. Immediately, the teacher can see where the problems are (if any) - whether of recognizing the actual notes, note values, counting beats/knowing where the beats are, accidentals, rests etc. Assuming of course, that all that has already been taught.

In fact, almost everything. And the student is assessed with every new piece she learns, because she has to sight-read it first in front of the teacher.

Surely, teaching is all about regular, if not continuous assessment (that what's been taught has been grasped and properly learnt by the student, including - especially - the basics) as well as teaching new stuff? Without the foundation in place, the whole edifice just collapses, as you discovered.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
keystring #2816643 02/17/19 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I learned, in discussing this with later teachers, that there are ways to check, because what a student comes in playing after a week of practise may hide reading weaknesses.

You are absolutely correct. Unfortunately, when you have to deal with moronic parents who interfere with teaching, things fall apart.

Several of my students have one parent that plays piano. Most of these parents stay out of my way, but a few are interfering with my instructions by superimposing how THEY learned piano, which is almost always by letter name. I'm trying to get them to stay away from letter names and focus on intervals instead. I can't get through to all of them. I loathe inflexible, stubborn minds in the most inflexible, stubborn way.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
AZNpiano #2816647 02/17/19 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Several of my students have one parent that plays piano. Most of these parents stay out of my way, but a few are interfering with my instructions by superimposing how THEY learned piano, which is almost always by letter name.

You should be more explicit. For instance, I learned All Cows Eat Grass and other sentences. I filled in a Schaum Notespeller, where the notes on a page spelled things like BAG and CABBAGE. My grandmother was my teacher, a neighborhood piano teacher. I watched her correct my work at light speed and had no idea what she was doing.

THIS DID NOT TEACH ME TO READ!

I stumbled upon correct reading by accident because I could never wait to get to the next page, and I was curious. None of my students except a couple would learn as I did, by instinct. They would all fail. The exceptions do what I did, just figure it out, and they just get it.

It is the same with intervals. I have to spoon feed them to most of my students. It is slow, careful, step by step. A few naturals do what I did, see the distance and absorb it.

Most students have to be tricked into reading. On their own they will do everything in the universe BUT read. They will copy hands, copy what they see on YouTube, or they will decipher music, one measure or one beat at a time, then play it over and over until it works, then think this is reading.

You and I are probably approaching the whole thing in a very similar manner. For me the names of notes are a backup. They always have to be there, You have to know what you are playing. But I navigate by pictures in my mind that tell me what keys to press, and that is lighting fast, way faster than I could ever call out names. When my students do what I do, they get fast, If not, they remains reading snails and fail.

Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
chasingrainbows #2816652 02/17/19 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
In my student's case, the parent is never seen before or after the lesson. She recently started texting me after the lesson (during the next student's lesson) for a "progress report."

You need to become more assertive. There are ways to deal with this. You draw lines, then if the parents gets angry and quits, so be it. This is a nightmare parent. We all have them. I would flat out tell her, "When parents never come to lessons and don't listen to anything I say, the children struggle or fail. You are not listening to me. You need to be here, at least once in a while. And shopping is not an excuse. That's what parents do who don't care.

Some people can't be that direct. I understand that. But you have to get your point across. In the long run you will have more and better students holding the line, otherwise these narcissistic blockheads will ruin your day and your life.
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Unbeknownst to me, over the prior 2 years, parent would use YouTube and make her child practice until the song was learned as shown on YouTube.

That can only happen if everything you are teaching is on YouTube. If the things you are teaching are not on YouTube, then that can't happen. Teach more materials that can't be learned that way.

And Bennevis has made excellent points. Teach something in each lesson that has never been seen or heard before, then watch the process. If it does not happen right in the lesson, it can't work at home.
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One of the reasons I am reluctant to post concerns on PW is because there are always the few Judges who come down from their lofty thrones and blame teachers and assume that teachers should "know" what's going on. How was I to know the parent was teaching her child this way? As soon as I saw a problem, I tackled it and she is making progress.

I'm a teacher, and I'm saying the same thing. You should have known that this student was not reading. It's your job to know. If you missed the boat on this one, chalk it up to experience and don't make the same mistake again.

I'm not saying that the same kind of thing has never happened to me, because it has. That's what makes us better, seeing where we have missed something and then putting in checks and balances for the future.

I use a keyboard chart. Usually the keyboard chart has always worked like magic, replacing itself with no chart, but I had some students who used it too long and got hooked on it. I had to change my teaching to actively MAKE them dump it sooner, in degrees, so that is fixed.

I did not use to worry much about letter names, so I had a boy who found every line and space in both clefs. I didn't think twice about it. His mother, of all people, discovered that he didn't know the letters. To this day I can't figure out how this kid could find all the As, or Cs, or Gs on the piano and did not know that they were they same. It never happened to me before. But I had to make a change because of that. This was perhaps 3 decades ago, but I never forgot my mistake.

A student I still have has minor dyslexia. I did not catch it. She reads text fine, but the moment she had to read finger numbers everything went wrong. She mixed up 2 and 2, 1 and 5. The only number she got right - most of the time - was 3. This is not a common problem, but I learned that in the future I had to make students call out number, in the beginning, hands separate so that I could be sure they were getting mapped properly. This got rid of that problem.

It's always like that. You keep finding new holes, so you plug them. Then new holes show up. That's the nature of the game.

So now you have answers for your problem:

1. Check from the beginning, in every lesson, to see that reading is taking place properly. You do this by teaching a little music the student has never seen nor heard before.
2. The materials you check can't stay in predictable hand positions, and finger numbers can totally mask reading problems.
3. You check notes and fingering by alternating. Sometimes you let them make up fingering on the spot, which usually is horrible for fingering but checks reading. Other times you have them call out every finger number, hands separate, to get that skill solid. You can't do both. Perfect fingering can lead to not reading notes. Always reading notes without fingering can lead to excellent reading but sloppy fingering (which happened to me as a student.)
4. Call parents on their crap. For you this will be a learning process, because you are too nice and too kind. I had to learn patience and tact, which for me are still in short supply. You have to learn assertiveness.

Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Gary D. #2816653 02/17/19 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Several of my students have one parent that plays piano. Most of these parents stay out of my way, but a few are interfering with my instructions by superimposing how THEY learned piano, which is almost always by letter name.

You should be more explicit. For instance, I learned All Cows Eat Grass and other sentences. I filled in a Schaum Notespeller, where the notes on a page spelled things like BAG and CABBAGE. My grandmother was my teacher, a neighborhood piano teacher. I watched her correct my work at light speed and had no idea what she was doing.

THIS DID NOT TEACH ME TO READ!

Well, if I start enumerating all the moronic stuff coming from parents, I'd be writing a novel.

I ran away from All Cows Eat Grass and FACE a long time ago. That smack never worked, but you still find that in some method books. Maybe I should just rip those pages out of the book when I see them. The landmark + intervallic approach works brilliantly IF the parents allow me to teach without interference.

What's more common is that the parent would fill in finger numbers above ALL notes. Or write letter names on ALL notes. So the kid doesn't know where to put his hands on the piano, and then he asks for demonstration. Of course those parents would just put their hands in the correct position without knowing that their kid is just copying. This can also be done with the ubiquitous Youtube videos.

And then during the lesson the kid would be staring at his hands the entire time, paying ZERO attention to the score. Since everything is memorized!!

I have developed several ways to lock in note reading, and to test note reading, very early on. You MUST do this early, or else the kid will spend a lot of time being deprogrammed and reprogrammed.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
Gary D. #2817042 02/18/19 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Several of my students have one parent that plays piano. Most of these parents stay out of my way, but a few are interfering with my instructions by superimposing how THEY learned piano, which is almost always by letter name.

You should be more explicit. For instance, I learned All Cows Eat Grass and other sentences. I filled in a Schaum Notespeller, where the notes on a page spelled things like BAG and CABBAGE. My grandmother was my teacher, a neighborhood piano teacher. I watched her correct my work at light speed and had no idea what she was doing.

THIS DID NOT TEACH ME TO READ!

I stumbled upon correct reading by accident because I could never wait to get to the next page, and I was curious. None of my students except a couple would learn as I did, by instinct. They would all fail. The exceptions do what I did, just figure it out, and they just get it.

It is the same with intervals. I have to spoon feed them to most of my students. It is slow, careful, step by step. A few naturals do what I did, see the distance and absorb it.

Most students have to be tricked into reading. On their own they will do everything in the universe BUT read. They will copy hands, copy what they see on YouTube, or they will decipher music, one measure or one beat at a time, then play it over and over until it works, then think this is reading.

You and I are probably approaching the whole thing in a very similar manner. For me the names of notes are a backup. They always have to be there, You have to know what you are playing. But I navigate by pictures in my mind that tell me what keys to press, and that is lighting fast, way faster than I could ever call out names. When my students do what I do, they get fast, If not, they remains reading snails and fail.


Gary- For a non-musical piano parent this is a REALLY helpful post. If I'm understanding correctly it's easier to think 2 up or 2 down (ie) rather than decoding each letter name as you go along.


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Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
AZNpiano #2817096 02/18/19 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Well, if I start enumerating all the moronic stuff coming from parents, I'd be writing a novel.

I ran away from All Cows Eat Grass and FACE a long time ago. That smack never worked, but you still find that in some method books. Maybe I should just rip those pages out of the book when I see them. The landmark + intervallic approach works brilliantly IF the parents allow me to teach without interference.

I never used that method. It is just about the worst way in the world.
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What's more common is that the parent would fill in finger numbers above ALL notes. Or write letter names on ALL notes. So the kid doesn't know where to put his hands on the piano, and then he asks for demonstration. Of course those parents would just put their hands in the correct position without knowing that their kid is just copying. This can also be done with the ubiquitous Youtube videos.

I print out music in the lessons. If the parents write crap in there I tell them not to write, I tear up the sheets and print them again with a huge sign: DO NOT WRITE NUMBERS OF LETTERS ON MY MUSIC EVER.

I've told you before: I'm much harder than you are. You talk about defining boundaries. I do it. smile
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And then during the lesson the kid would be staring at his hands the entire time, paying ZERO attention to the score. Since everything is memorized!!

Never happens in my lessons. Never. Every student of mine has eyes glued to the page unless it is someone too late to help. But I do go through some battles to get there!

Re: question from a parent helping a young piano student
parent_helper #2817173 02/19/19 01:54 AM
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Sorry, for the long post...

My daughter (almost 8) piano teacher uses a different approach. We quit our previous teacher (she did 1 year with him and before Yamaha classesr since my wife and daughter relocated last summer. Now my daughter has been admitted in a local public conservatory.

She found that my daughter was too much into reading in a pretty mechanical way. As a matter of fact, previous teacher was pretty obsessed with it. In particular, she noted that she was a lot into "horizontal" reading and was also too mechanical and not playing too much attention to what she was playing from the musical point of view.

So, especially at the beginning, she was asking to play always right and left separated before putting them together. As soon as she would start to know the piece, she has to play by heart. Every know and then she can play to reinforce memory.
On these pieces, she really uses reading as a tool. They mark the score together, for intervals, jumps octave etc. and if there is a problem with a note here and there, they right the name of it.
In this, she gave a lot of emphasis on the articulations, musicality, hands, tempo.
At the same time, on another book, at a simpler level, she has constant sight reading assignments. In them, she always has to read and play the two hands together always reading. She changes this reading assignments very often (basically every time).

The proportion of her work is 2/3 pieces and 1 reading at the time.

The teacher, let my daughter chose the piece she wants after she play them for her. She is open at any kind of music that she would wish to play. She did not pay too much attention to the books, she basically was ok with the one my daughter was using before:

- The Joy Of First Classics
- Bastien 2 (but now they drop it)
- Pianorama (for the reading, this is a pretty new french book and the pieces are elementary but she loves them link)

After few month, my daughter gave her first concert with the teacher piano class (form 8 to 18) and all the students had to play by heart.

We can help and we have always feedback from her, the only think she insist on is no reading without the piano!

It must be said, that as a part of the conservatory training, my daughter has a compulsory collective (roughly 10 students) solfege class every week. The teachers knows that and can interact with the solfege teacher any time.

The results for the moment is that, with constant application, my daughter is improving in all respect musicality, speed, hand positions and reading and she is really enjoying the process.



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