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importance of teaching a student how to practice #2860709
06/20/19 04:45 AM
06/20/19 04:45 AM
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Canada
keystring Offline OP
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Right now there is a discussion going on in the ABF, with a subtopic forming. One idea seems to be that the only thing that is important is the teaching itself, by a good teacher. That if the teaching is good, how a student practices doesn't really matter as long as the student puts in the hours.

What importance do teachers here put to a student's practising. THAT a student practices is a given, because that has often been mentioned. What about how they practice? Is good teaching already 90% of the equation?

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Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2860760
06/20/19 08:02 AM
06/20/19 08:02 AM
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Putting in "hours of ineffective practice" would seem to defeat the purpose. "Bad practice" on the (likely six) days between lessons can wipe out whatever good teaching was received. On the other hand, there is an aspect of leading a horse to water; if a student absorbs the knowledge but chooses not to apply it, there is not much the teacher can do about that.

Something I see often with children students is they get to a trouble spot, then start over from the beginning of the piece. They stumble again at the spot, and perhaps this cycle happens a few times until they slow down, maybe start at just a phrase before, eventually they get it once and keep going. To me, good teaching would be uncovering that this kind of practicing is occurring and addressing it. (And pointing out that for performing, you do need to be comfortable with how to recover and move on from a slip, but you should not be spending all your time "practicing performing".)

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2860776
06/20/19 08:52 AM
06/20/19 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
That if the teaching is good, how a student practices doesn't really matter as long as the student puts in the hours.


Oof. Who said such an inane thing? On second thought, don't tell me. I don't want to know.

Quote
What importance do teachers here put to a student's practising.


HIGH importance.

Quote
THAT a student practices is a given, because that has often been mentioned. What about how they practice? Is good teaching already 90% of the equation?


IMNSHO, "good teaching" will include instruction on how to practice effectively. That's something I start teaching from the very beginning, stressing the need for practice to be focused and intentional. I always harp on good practice techniques, mentioning them again and again whenever I can tell they are not being used. (Experienced teachers can not only tell whether or not a student has practiced, but very often how they practiced. I must have driven my teacher crazy when I was a kid...)


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2860787
06/20/19 09:16 AM
06/20/19 09:16 AM
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@dr Rogers
It’s great to hear that teachers are including how to practice in the lesson. It was never discussed with me as a child student, so my practice habits were the most inefficient possible. I practiced so many hours per week that I’m sure it did not sound like I had been struggling and therefore my teacher never knew how inefficient I was.

It was only as an adult re-starter that I realized there had to be a better way to practice and did a lot of personal research on how to make it more efficient. I wish I would have known all of this as a child😢

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2860823
06/20/19 11:01 AM
06/20/19 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers


IMNSHO, "good teaching" will include instruction on how to practice effectively. That's something I start teaching from the very beginning, stressing the need for practice to be focused and intentional. )
For me, this is just a trivial truth; 87% of the time the student teaches himself. Or doesn't teach ...

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2860834
06/20/19 11:47 AM
06/20/19 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers

Quote
THAT a student practices is a given, because that has often been mentioned. What about how they practice? Is good teaching already 90% of the equation?


IMNSHO, "good teaching" will include instruction on how to practice effectively. That's something I start teaching from the very beginning, stressing the need for practice to be focused and intentional. I always harp on good practice techniques, mentioning them again and again whenever I can tell they are not being used. (Experienced teachers can not only tell whether or not a student has practiced, but very often how they practiced. I must have driven my teacher crazy when I was a kid...)


Exactly. So much of my teaching is devoted to leading the student through practice procedures. They don't always follow through at home, I think because it's human nature to always look for ways to cut corners and finish faster!
I wish my own teachers had helped me develop better practice techniques. As a student I had a lot of enthusiasm and drive, and accomplished a lot with brute repetition, which resulted in some bad technical habits that I later had to unlearn.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2860929
06/20/19 03:10 PM
06/20/19 03:10 PM
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Orange County, CA
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In my experience, a student who is mindful and keenly aware during lessons CAN get away with very little or no practice at home. Such students tend to have a great memory and can pick up right where we left off the last lesson.

However, the majority of students falls into the category of mindless, brain-challenged, "why am I even here" bottom dwellers. No matter how much I stress the importance of practicing at home, they either:

1) don't practice at all, or

2) practice by playing the piece once from beginning to end.

I do give very specific instructions on how to practice, and many times I turn the entire lesson into a mock practice session. However, there is no follow through. This problem is compounded by those "hands off" parents who can't or won't enforce practice at home.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861064
06/20/19 10:31 PM
06/20/19 10:31 PM
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You’d be surprised how inefficiently some kids practice and the weird reasons why.

My wife became the boss of my 5 year old’s piano practice. Here’s what she did:

- She made him practice once per week (said daily practice is too extreme). His complaints and protests made once a week bad enough I suppose.
- She only allowed him to practice the fingering on a cushion while sitting on the couch the whole time. She said the finger movements are the same anyway, so why bother getting off the comfy couch? She also didn’t want the keyboard taken from storage because dust would off the bag as it had been up there so long.
- In frustration I eventually took the keyboard down from storage one day (we don’t own a piano). She then said it had to be stored under the bed, so that the younger child won’t pull it it down to injure himself.
- One day I really got frustrated with her method and forced them to practice on a keyboard. She insisted the keyboard had to be kept on the floor while playing, because the stand is unnecessary and the finger movements are the same anyway, right? Next week she returned back to the sofa cushion method.
- We saw a tv show on the brain. It said you can improve at darts and a musical instrument just by imagining you’re doing it. Further proof you don’t need an actual instrument to practice on.
- In group music class my son’s finger movements were good enough since they don’t learn much and the teacher only watches the child for 2 seconds. Teacher never had the time or interest to ask precisely how we practice, so it went on like this from age 4-5. This appalling lack of interest in the students is yet another reason I’m switching to a private teacher (to my wife’s disappointment).

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Mariner] #2861080
06/20/19 11:58 PM
06/20/19 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Mariner
This appalling lack of interest in the students is yet another reason I’m switching to a private teacher (to my wife’s disappointment).

I'm certain the new private teacher will be much impressed with your wife's methods of once-a-week sofa-cushion practice.


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"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
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861093
06/21/19 01:16 AM
06/21/19 01:16 AM
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Mariner, do you have a new agreement in place with your wife for how Mariner Jr. will practice when he starts with the private teacher?


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Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861106
06/21/19 02:19 AM
06/21/19 02:19 AM
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She’s agreed to allow him to learn properly once he leaves his current music school. In the meantime I’m paying $30 a week for him to be not-taught in a group class with an oblivious teacher and practicing weekly on a sofa cushion. Only two more weeks until the class finishes for the term thank goodness.

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Mariner] #2861109
06/21/19 03:08 AM
06/21/19 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Mariner
His complaints and protests made once a week bad enough I suppose.

Hi Mariner, with all sympathy for your efforts to give your 5 year old a good start with the piano, does he want to learn how to play the piano? Is there any joy for him in playing?


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Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Mariner] #2861112
06/21/19 03:15 AM
06/21/19 03:15 AM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by Mariner
She’s agreed to allow him to learn properly once he leaves his current music school. In the meantime I’m paying $30 a week for him to be not-taught in a group class with an oblivious teacher and practicing weekly on a sofa cushion. Only two more weeks until the class finishes for the term thank goodness.

Just make sure your wife is not THIS bad when it comes to actual school work.

Moons ago, I taught one of those once-in-a-lifetime students whose mother is kind of enterprising like you, but her husband just wants the daughter to "have fun" and "enjoy her childhood." Grandma (mom's mom) is the one who brings the girl to lessons, and each time she brings with her some sob story about the drama at home. I got the girl as far as Beethoven Sonatas and Bach Well-tempered Clavier by third grade, and then her lessons ended. I don't want to guess what happened, but it seemed like her parents were headed for a divorce.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861147
06/21/19 06:18 AM
06/21/19 06:18 AM
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Australia
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Mariner Offline
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My son enjoys music depending on his mood, but he’s still very immature. Even if he changes to another instrument when he’s older it’s no loss because piano’s a good base for music.

When we meet his new teacher we’ll establish *the importance of teaching a student how to practice*, because in my household it was done incorrectly. I think a teacher who takes an interest in whether the student’s practiced and also how they’re practicing is taking an positive interest in the student.

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Mariner] #2861422
06/21/19 09:56 PM
06/21/19 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Mariner
You’d be surprised how inefficiently some kids practice and the weird reasons why.

My wife became the boss of my 5 year old’s piano practice. Here’s what she did:

- She made him practice once per week (said daily practice is too extreme). His complaints and protests made once a week bad enough I suppose.
- She only allowed him to practice the fingering on a cushion while sitting on the couch the whole time. She said the finger movements are the same anyway, so why bother getting off the comfy couch? She also didn’t want the keyboard taken from storage because dust would off the bag as it had been up there so long.
- In frustration I eventually took the keyboard down from storage one day (we don’t own a piano). She then said it had to be stored under the bed, so that the younger child won’t pull it it down to injure himself.
- One day I really got frustrated with her method and forced them to practice on a keyboard. She insisted the keyboard had to be kept on the floor while playing, because the stand is unnecessary and the finger movements are the same anyway, right? Next week she returned back to the sofa cushion method.
- We saw a tv show on the brain. It said you can improve at darts and a musical instrument just by imagining you’re doing it. Further proof you don’t need an actual instrument to practice on.
- In group music class my son’s finger movements were good enough since they don’t learn much and the teacher only watches the child for 2 seconds. Teacher never had the time or interest to ask precisely how we practice, so it went on like this from age 4-5. This appalling lack of interest in the students is yet another reason I’m switching to a private teacher (to my wife’s disappointment).



Lol! That's sooo funny. I almost spit out my coffee. grin


It seems your wife enjoys provoking you (and letting you feel your powerlessness in this area).

But raising two little kids ... that's a challenging time for any relationship. You're not alone. wink


Children of this age are often lazy.
My (four-year-old) daughter actually likes to play. But when I asked her last time to lift her wrist, she replied: You hold it for me!

Haha.
Unfortanitly I am not as sweet-tempered as your wife. I told her firmly "do it either properly, or leave!"

Well, she left.... blush

(She's so damn stubborn).

Maybe I should think about a cushion too?

Last edited by Pinkiepie; 06/21/19 09:59 PM.
Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861471
06/22/19 03:49 AM
06/22/19 03:49 AM
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My wife was actually strict. If an activity’s not tv or running around then a child will often automatically resist.

To be fair, many of the music homework sessions included whole body movements and rhythm tapping, so no piano was required for them. It was never clear when children should be pressing the keys properly (when he was 4 the teacher said “oh just let him press anything, it doesn’t matter, he’s too young”. In other words, who cares?). He’s still never been taught how to sit properly or place his hands and fingers in the way.

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861477
06/22/19 04:43 AM
06/22/19 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Mariner

- She only allowed him to practice the fingering on a cushion while sitting on the couch the whole time. .

I tried to find literature on the method with cushions; but alas - found a zero material!

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Mariner] #2861591
06/22/19 11:32 AM
06/22/19 11:32 AM
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Canada
keystring Offline OP
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As the OP who started this thread and then went AWOL (sorry - got busy) - Mariner's story gives an interesting twist. The original thing I was exploring was the premise given that with good teaching, "how you practice" doesn't matter - only the good teaching itself matters. Mariner, from everything you've told us in this and other threads, the "good teaching" part doesn't seem to be there. Or not much of it.

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: Pinkiepie] #2861596
06/22/19 11:35 AM
06/22/19 11:35 AM
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keystring Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Pinkiepie
[Children of this age are often lazy.
My (four-year-old) daughter actually likes to play. But when I asked her last time to lift her wrist, she replied: You hold it for me!


An OT thought. Has your daughter's teacher talked to you about bench height and distance from the piano? If she needs to "lift" her wrist, are either of these things a factor?

Re: importance of teaching a student how to practice [Re: keystring] #2861620
06/22/19 12:04 PM
06/22/19 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Pinkiepie
[Children of this age are often lazy.
My (four-year-old) daughter actually likes to play. But when I asked her last time to lift her wrist, she replied: You hold it for me!


An OT thought. Has your daughter's teacher talked to you about bench height and distance from the piano? If she needs to "lift" her wrist, are either of these things a factor?

Speaking as an adult student, some of us people just have lazy wrists. I'm actually sitting too high (by classical piano best practices), yet my wrists are still drooping when I play as if I have no muscular tension in them. To keep them up is one additional piece of awareness I need (other bits: keep fingers from collapsing, keep pinkies, from curling automagically, etc. etc). It's a wonder I have any awareness left for the notes themselves as roughly 157.3% wink of my attention is spent on matters of pianistic form/technique! shocked cry grin


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
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
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