Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.7 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Find a Professional
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Advertise on Piano World

(ad)
Accu-Tuner
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
Who's Online Now
138 registered members (604Rakuda, AlphaBravoCharlie, almo82, 5boys, ando, ajames, Abdol, Akaitsuki, Animisha, 24 invisible), 8,899 guests, and 6 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords & Scales
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
ADHD Student #2882821
08/23/19 05:27 PM
08/23/19 05:27 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 76
New Hampshire
S
sonataplayer Offline OP
Full Member
sonataplayer  Offline OP
Full Member
S

Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 76
New Hampshire
I am wondering if anyone has had success with ADHD students, and suggestions for how to most effectively teach them.

I have an 8-year old student with ADHD who presents quite a challenge. I started teaching her in December and we are moving agonizingly slowly through the Alfred Premier Level 1A Lesson and Theory books. Of course, the biggest hurdle is getting her to focus long enough to get through her assigned songs for the week. She announces at every lesson that she has "forgotten" her assigned song and so we pretty much start from zero -- "learning" the song that was assigned last week. She looks at her hands, not the notes, constantly. Reminding her to keep her eyes on the music lasts for about a minute, and then she's back to looking down at her hands again. But looking at the music doesn't help much, since she doesn't seem to have any idea what the notes on the page mean.

She does have a good ear, and will often ask me to listen to something she's learned by listening to a recording and picking out the melody on the keyboard.

Her mom is very supportive of my efforts to teach her -- she sits in on every lesson -- but can offer her no help at home because she has no musical background.

Sometimes I think I should just abandon traditional teaching methods and just let her learn things by rote.. She'll be happy and I'll be able to stop tearing my hair out. smile But, I thought that someone out there might have some good suggestions for me.

Any ideas????

(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2882863
08/23/19 08:43 PM
08/23/19 08:43 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,150
Canada
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,150
Canada
Some immediate questions, where the answers might also help other teachers here:

- Did she start piano with you, or by herself or with another teacher?
- How long has this 8 year old been doing piano??

I'm looking at the reading music vs. looking at hands part. If she started with you and did not touch the piano before meeting you, then you would know how her reading abilities were formed (by you). Before she ever "read music" in the very beginning this would be at a very fundamental stage and you'll know how that evolved. But if she started on her own, or with another teacher who did not form reading skills, then you have a different problem.

I have ignored the ADHD - which is often over-used and misused including by the school system and parents - because if she also did not learn to read, and already cannot focus well for whatever reason, then this will just aggravate everything else.

Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2882892
08/23/19 10:34 PM
08/23/19 10:34 PM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 563
Hawaii
T
TheHappyPianoMuse Offline
500 Post Club Member
TheHappyPianoMuse  Offline
500 Post Club Member
T

Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 563
Hawaii
I had an ADHD student some years ago ... and she eventually gave me one of the most touching moments in my teaching career.

Lauren was brought to me by her doting mother and I immediately agreed to take her as a student IF the mother would agree to my teaching methods. Which I warned would be unorthodox.
She was 9 years old and very bright and after while with her, I realized she was spoiled by her mother's constant attention, but she was not bratty.

But she was definitely having concentration problems. The first lesson she squirmed off the piano bench in less than three minutes and proceeded to prance around the room. I shot a warning look at her mother as I focused on my notebook. I didn't even look at Lauren. After a while she decided more a draconian display was in order, so she flopped onto the floor and began writhing like a snake. I ignored her. But Mom was getting very edgy. So I shot another warning look at Mom before going back to the notebook. We endured a full fifteen minutes of this flapping around. From time time to Lauren would pause and look over at me but I kept my eyes on the notebook.

Finally in desperation she got up and came over to me, pushing her face over the notebook and looking up at me. At that point, I put down my pen and said with a mock expression of surprise, " Oh THERE you are Lauren ... I was wondering where you went". She looked puzzled and then I added " I'm a music teacher and I can only see you if you're sitting on the piano bench ..." But I smiled letting her know I was playing a bit of a game with her.

She sat down and we started again. I repeated this little bit of histrionics each time she edged off the bench. And that little display soon vanished in a few lessons when she realized she wasn't getting any attention. To be sure I had to hone more skills to keep her focused. And after she realized she'd be ignored for flopping around, she learned she'd be praised lavishly for each little thing she learned. Whenever she showed the slightest positive thing ... I praised her. From sitting nicely, to making her hands like "paws", to saying the name of each note aloud " so it knows you're listening to it". There was a lot of laughter and eye-rolls on my part. And in an amazingly short time Lauren began to calm down. And she enjoyed her lessons.

She progressed incredibly quickly once she understood that she'd get no attention from me whatsoever unless she sat on the bench and stopped squirming. And I made each learning step good fun. Finally the magic moment came for me after almost a year of lessons.

I was dreading a lesson ... with anyone ... since I had a headache. And Lauren arrived on time, raring to go. As she came in the door, I decided to try a new tactic, fueled by my pounding headache. I leaned down and asked her, "Lauren, I have a terrible headache ... do you think you could play the piano really nicely today and maybe help me." She looked up with an expression of concern slowly appearing on her face. She walked over to the piano and sat down, quietly putting her music on the rack.

She had a wonderful lesson and by the time she was ready to go, I'd forgotten my headache. "Oh you had a wonderful lesson today. Lauren, " I said as she walked to the door. She looked up at me for a moment and asked, "Did I cure your headache?"

I fought back tears as I assured her that she'd done a better job than any doctor and that I felt wonderful. And I did. Because this little girl had not only transcended her ADHD but learned a rare and beautiful human quality ... Empathy. Twenty years later I still remember Lauren and what I learned from her. smile

Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2882914
08/24/19 01:45 AM
08/24/19 01:45 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,205
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
8000 Post Club Member
AZNpiano  Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,205
Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by sonataplayer
Her mom is very supportive of my efforts to teach her -- she sits in on every lesson -- but can offer her no help at home because she has no musical background.

If the student's mother simply sits in, but does not focus on what you are doing, then what good does that do? If she has no musical background, then get her to learn whatever you are teaching.

In my view, a truly supportive parent will be able to reinforce whatever you are teaching when they practice at home.

You might want to consult an expert (like a Special Education teacher, or one of the support staff members in schools). You can get a lot of teaching strategies that work in the general classroom setting, which can be transferred to piano lessons. One idea you might need to try immediately is to keep switching tasks every 2-3 minutes. Rotate the tasks throughout the lesson. You might want to turn your studio into "zones" of learning, and keep going from station to station during the lesson.

Get a deck of flashcards. Parents can go through the cards at home with kiddo.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2882966
08/24/19 09:19 AM
08/24/19 09:19 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
5000 Post Club Member
malkin  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
I agree with keystring that the ADHD label is not really useful, since it is broadly applied to kids with widely varying skills.

Give the student simple verbal directions for specific behaviors that you would like her to do. Provide a model, that is show her what you want. As an example, to teacher her how to sit at the piano, you would introduce the idea saying "Now we are going to learn to sit at the piano." Demonstrate, show her how to approach the bench and sit down, and say "This is how we sit at the piano." Depending on her language and cognitive skills, you might want to state what each body part is doing (e.g. My feet are... My hands are... My legs are... My back is... My arms are...) I didn't write it from the feet up or the head down, but that is probably a good idea so she could cue from her own body.

Once you have demonstrated, go through the process with her so that you and she are both saying the script and performing the action.

After you have done it together it is her turn.
If she is not able to remember all the parts, then you will cue her, and return to the previous step. "Let's do it together again." "This is how we sit at the piano..."

Have mom take notes so that she can support practice at home. Make a grid with boxes so that the student can mark that she practiced "SIT AT THE PIANO" every day or 2x every day. Tell her that the goal for next week is for her to be able to show you how to sit at the piano all by herself. Perhaps she would like to "teach" a doll how to sit at the piano. Teaching the doll would include the student producing the script.


Learner
Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2882971
08/24/19 09:47 AM
08/24/19 09:47 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
5000 Post Club Member
malkin  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
When providing instruction, follow an "I do...We do...You do" model as above. Use language that makes the sequence explicit.
First say what you are going to do.
Then say "Watch me..."
Then "Let's do it together..."
Then "Now it's your turn..."



If the lesson time is too long for her to pay attention the whole time, structure the session so that the activities change to meet her needs.

Perhaps you sandwich time for her to show you what she wants to show you in between instructional times.

A simple visual schedule would let her know what the lesson will look like. CAUTION: The creation of visual schedules has become a grand capitalist enterprise, so if you google, you will find sets of hundreds of pictures and grids which are hardly ever needed. All you need is a piece of paper or note cards and a marker.

If you taught "how to sit..." last week, a review of that could be first this week. Picture 1 could show a simple stick figure sitting.

Picture 2: could be a simple representation of her book like red rectangle indicating that you will work on a piece from her red book or a line drawing that represents her book in some other way. Maybe her piece is called The Little Cowboy and you draw a cowboy hat. It doesn't have to look like a cowboy hat.

Picture 3: could be an exclamation point to indicate that she gets to show you something she made up.

Picture 4: could be a quarter note and eighth notes and during this time you will teach her this rhythm. The schedule picture does not show the whole lesson, just a symbolic representation.

Picture 5: could be a grid which is a symbol of her homework grid, to go over what you want her to do at home. You will write the assignment on her home sheet and her non musical mom will be able to support her home practice of the Cowboy piece, the rhythm, and review of How to sit...

It is not necessary for the symbols to represent equal amounts of time. If she has practiced and mastered How to sit... that section could be 1-2 minutes while the instruction on the piece or the rhythm would likely be much longer. It would not be surprising to need to limit her "Show off" time, so you could set a timer for 2 minutes.


Learner
Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2882992
08/24/19 10:55 AM
08/24/19 10:55 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 4,436
Florida
dogperson Offline

Silver Subscriber
dogperson  Offline

Silver Subscriber
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 4,436
Florida
I am missing how teaching her by rote or development of learning by ear would be inappropriate for this student, isn’t the goal to learn how to play and enjoy playing music? We all learn differently so I would suggest working with the ways she can learn. Talk to the mom.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2883158
08/25/19 12:32 AM
08/25/19 12:32 AM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,484
Finland
O
outo Offline
4000 Post Club Member
outo  Offline
4000 Post Club Member
O

Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,484
Finland
Originally Posted by sonataplayer


I have an 8-year old student with ADHD who presents quite a challenge. I started teaching her in December and we are moving agonizingly slowly through the Alfred Premier Level 1A Lesson and Theory books. Of course, the biggest hurdle is getting her to focus long enough to get through her assigned songs for the week. She announces at every lesson that she has "forgotten" her assigned song and so we pretty much start from zero -- "learning" the song that was assigned last week. She looks at her hands, not the notes, constantly. Reminding her to keep her eyes on the music lasts for about a minute, and then she's back to looking down at her hands again. But looking at the music doesn't help much, since she doesn't seem to have any idea what the notes on the page mean.


Why would she keep her eyes on the music if she does not know what the notes mean? You might as well ask her to play blind folded...

People with attention deficits can often concentrate when they have an interesting problem to solve, but routine tasks and repetitive practice is difficult. They may also have problems with working and short term memory, so instructing needs to be done in a specific way.

I would try to make learn to read notes into an interesting task done in small portions. Make her discover things herself instead of spoonfeeding information. Forget about trying to make her practice to play the same pieces from start to finish now, but instead focus on technical and musical details one at the time making sure she is interested and listening no matter how short the time frame.

If you cannot figure out ways to do any of that, you may not be ready to teach a challenging student like that.

Re: ADHD Student [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse] #2883199
08/25/19 07:20 AM
08/25/19 07:20 AM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,215
Moscow, Russia
I
Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Iaroslav Vasiliev  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
I

Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,215
Moscow, Russia
Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
I had an ADHD student some years ago ... and she eventually gave me one of the most touching moments in my teaching career.
...

And concerning her ADHD did the music lessons have positive effect on her ability to focus attention, what do you think?

Re: ADHD Student [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2883218
08/25/19 08:41 AM
08/25/19 08:41 AM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 563
Hawaii
T
TheHappyPianoMuse Offline
500 Post Club Member
TheHappyPianoMuse  Offline
500 Post Club Member
T

Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 563
Hawaii
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
I had an ADHD student some years ago ... and she eventually gave me one of the most touching moments in my teaching career.
...

And concerning her ADHD did the music lessons have positive effect on her ability to focus attention, what do you think?


Absolutely! About a year after she began her lessons with me, her mother said her behavior had changed so radically that even her school work was impacted. I think it's a simple mechanism which works in almost all of life's situations .... reinforce the desired behavior with praise. I remember the first few months, her mother and brother arrived to sit through the lesson ... I was very sad for the wonderful little boy, who sat patiently through each lesson with no squirming. I realized Lauren had "stolen" attention from him by grabbing her mother's with her antics. So I developed a covert plan to somehow squeeze a compliment to the boy as they left each lesson ... sneakily and being very careful never to compare the two children.
Praise is the secret. We all covet praise, even as adults. We never outgrow that basic human desire.

And yes, Lauren learned to read the notes ... to enjoy our flash cards and even the scales. And I was careful to assign her "pretty" songs ... picking out those from various students grade books without making her endure the all too frequent dissonant ones. ( I've worked for the past ten years to create songs for students with that idea ... the music should be appealing ...)
She eventually learned to love those lessons and would bound into the room, straight to the piano bench. She warmed my heart every time she'd play a simple tune and turn towards me at the last note, waiting for my verdict.

Re: ADHD Student [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse] #2883228
08/25/19 09:08 AM
08/25/19 09:08 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
5000 Post Club Member
malkin  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse


...reinforce the desired behavior with praise.



Yes!


Learner
Re: ADHD Student [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse] #2883265
08/25/19 10:42 AM
08/25/19 10:42 AM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 679
Toronto, Canada
T
thepianoplayer416 Offline
500 Post Club Member
thepianoplayer416  Offline
500 Post Club Member
T

Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 679
Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
I had an ADHD student some years ago ... and she eventually gave me one of the most touching moments in my teaching career.


An inspirational story.

There is a young man in the family who has emotional issues and has trouble socializing with others. Nobody expects a miracle for the son. If the father would be more receptive to get the son to be creative on the piano, maybe the son can open up a lot more.

The father had piano lessons playing Classical music like an academic exercise many years ago and hated playing ever since. He has no issue with the son playing video games for many hours. I used to watch many hours of Charlie Brown cartoons. Seeing Shroeder play piano on TV is not the same as spending time on the piano. I think a lot of people with personal issues and are locked in their own world can benefit. Learning to play an instrument can be used as a kind of therapy over taking drugs.

Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2883275
08/25/19 11:17 AM
08/25/19 11:17 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,150
Canada
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
keystring  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,150
Canada
I am hoping to get some answers to my questions from the OP. It seems useless to try to solve anything before knowing what the student has actually learned, what the larger background is, because part of the question is about reading music.

The term ADHD is misused and misunderstood. It can be misused by parents, and even teachers in the school system. There is an actual medical ADHD. It can happen through accident in a difficult birth, in utero by development, maybe genetically, and it is also a common part of foetal alcohol syndrom, where the nervous system and brain themselves are damaged in some ways. That's the actual ADHD. You also get bright kids who are bored in school, or have less bright parents whom they can manipulate (and maybe also give them a boring environment) -- I suspect that Muse's student was more that kind of student - so they act out and get labeled "ADHD". They don't have ADHD but get labeled that way. If you can help them not be bored out of their skull and give them something to focus on and challenge them, then their "ADHD" goes away. There are also students who have learning disabilities and struggle with things, which makes them fidgety, and/or they are embarrassed at their failures and so act out.

I really think that one cannot tell anything until it is known where this student actually stands with reading music, as background. Outou sort of touched on that:
Originally Posted by outou
Why would she keep her eyes on the music if she does not know what the notes mean? You might as well ask her to play blind folded...


Re: ADHD Student [Re: sonataplayer] #2883371
08/25/19 03:58 PM
08/25/19 03:58 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 76
New Hampshire
S
sonataplayer Offline OP
Full Member
sonataplayer  Offline OP
Full Member
S

Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 76
New Hampshire
I thank everyone for their thoughtful input. You have offered many helpful suggestions for me to sort through and evaluate.

The suggestion of flash cards is one I thought of myself and I plan to try during her next lesson. I have also noticed that she does keep her eyes on the music when I point to each note individually as she plays. I have hesitated to use that approach often because I obviously cannot be there to point to notes when she practices at home. (Mom could point to the notes when she practices, but would have no idea whether she was playing the correct note or not.)

I do believe that this child is legitimately ADHD. She exhibits all the classic symptoms and there is no indication that she is "acting out" in order to get attention. She is trying; she just can't stay focused for more than a few minutes at a time.

Once again, thanks to everyone. smile smile


Moderated by  Ken Knapp 

Shop our Store for Music Lovers!
PianoSupplies.com is Piano World's Online Store
Please visit our store today.
(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq Bechstein
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Best YouTube Channels For Non Classical Piano Lessons?
by RhodesFanatic. 09/18/19 02:05 PM
Current Estonia concert Grand model 274
by Keith D Kerman. 09/18/19 01:07 PM
Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
by 5boys. 09/18/19 12:56 PM
Would love some feedback on my Jazz attempt
by hyena. 09/18/19 12:36 PM
What's Hot!!
Our August Newsletter is Out!
------------------
Mason & Hamlin Piano Factory Tour!

-------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics194,092
Posts2,870,762
Members94,443
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers


 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2019 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.1