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Getting the kids to practice #915947
02/27/03 10:46 AM
02/27/03 10:46 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 141
New Jersey
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ob1knabe Offline OP
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New Jersey
I was just wondering if any parents or piano teachers had any methods which they used to encourage kids to practice. I know that "getting the kids to practice" when there are so many other pressures on them is not always easy.

Here is something we do--and it's been a lot of fun for all of us. My kids (age 6 and 10) have their lessons on Mondays. Every Sunday night becomes Concert Night at our house. Instead of preparing for their lesson, they prepare for Concert Night. (This way, I know they're prepared for their lesson laugh ). Since I take lessons as well, I am also a performer on Sunday evenings. Being a performer takes on a whole different meaning to my kids as opposed to getting ready for a lesson. They select the pieces they want to play, we drink hot chocolate (with marshmallows!),and applaud loudly for each other. They have such a sense of pride to "perform" just for their family--and they do love the applause!! Does it always work out perfectly? Of course not! Sometimes life gets crazy, but we do try and keep Concert Night as a sacred family time. THEY want to do Concert Night because it makes them feel special. When you feel special, you want to keep that feeling going smile .

Just wondering if anyone else had an idea to share.


"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever"
John Keats
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Re: Getting the kids to practice #915948
02/27/03 12:12 PM
02/27/03 12:12 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 364
North Carolina
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Elaine617 Offline
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North Carolina
You have a great way to motivate your children to practice. When I used to teach, I advised parents not to MAKE children practice. I suggested that they say something like, "You know, I'd really love to hear this song. Would you please play it for me?" Most children are thrilled to show their parents what they've been learning and it creates a very positive environment for piano practice. Your family's concert night sounds like a wonderful way to accomplish this. Good luck and enjoy your music!

Lyn B.

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915949
02/27/03 12:18 PM
02/27/03 12:18 PM
Joined: May 2002
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Roxane Offline
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I don't have any children, so I cannot share my own experiences, but ob1's way of motivating the kids is truly inspired smile

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915950
02/27/03 12:21 PM
02/27/03 12:21 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 513
Dallas, TX
Cork Offline
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Dallas, TX
I'll have to try that; my cattle prod seems to have lost its effectiveness.

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915951
02/27/03 01:14 PM
02/27/03 01:14 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 2,943
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Penny Offline
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San Juan Capistrano, CA
I love concert night! All four of us are taking lessons, and what fun that would be! Thank you!

My son has improved so much these last four months or so because now, when it is time to practice, I sit with him and help him. He is definitely growing in confidence and ability. The only problem is, I'll often perform what he's working on, and then he'll play it more by ear than by reading, so his sightreading is suffering. So we're back to the flash cards!

My husband also sits with our daughter when it is her time to practice (she just started two weeks ago and is only 4). She didn't even question starting lessons or practice. It's just a fact of life now in this house. For my husband, who never in his wildest dreams thought he would learn to play -- though he always wanted to growing up in a third world country -- a piano-playing household is a dream come true.

penny

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915952
02/27/03 01:30 PM
02/27/03 01:30 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,838
Canada
katie_dup1 Offline
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Canada
I try to get my 8 year to "teach" his dad the piece he is supposed to be practicing. Dad is a non-player, but "plays" along with this. Inevitably, my son ends up playing the song 2 times or so, because dad just doesn't "get it". I do whatever works.

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915953
02/27/03 01:31 PM
02/27/03 01:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 836
Irvine, CA
mkesfahani Offline
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Irvine, CA
Great suggestion! As a teacher, the first thing I do with a new student is talk to the parents. I tell them that they have to make it clear to their child(ren) that lessons aren't cheap and practice makes the most of their money. You'd be surprised how this can motivate them. Also, I make it clear to the student that not doing the assignments I assign or not practicing is as bad as not doing homework in school. That works well too.

Mike

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915954
02/27/03 04:35 PM
02/27/03 04:35 PM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 225
Kalamazoo, MI
gprice Offline
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Kalamazoo, MI
There are some great ideas here and I'm definitely going to try them all! My son has been learning for a couple of years (he's now 9) and has a good appreciation of music but has only started with a decent teacher last October. He's making progress but he definitely doesn't WANT to take piano. I was pushed a little bit as a "junior" but feel that if I hadn't been, I may have stopped learning and been content with Scott Joplins "The Entertainer" (first piece I learned as it happens - long story!).

The concert night sounds like a good idea particularly!

Gary.

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915955
02/27/03 04:56 PM
02/27/03 04:56 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 18
Texas
Xerxes Offline
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Texas
I'd say competition could be a good motivator. If they have friends who play you could pit them against each other and the winner gets a ???. Or if they have friends that play you could maybe get them to do duets. I guess what I'm saying is use their peers to help motivate them.

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915956
02/27/03 05:28 PM
02/27/03 05:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,778
Auckland, New Zealand
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Ted Offline
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Auckland, New Zealand
I'm probably on my own but I don't believe in forcing kids to practise music of any sort. There are enough necessary things in life they have to work at with or without enjoyment. They should be exposed to an eclectic selection of its many varieties and any artistic interest should be immediately encouraged and encouraged generously. But if playing has to be forced on a kid - no, I think that's a complete waste of time.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Getting the kids to practice #915957
02/27/03 05:31 PM
02/27/03 05:31 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 3,857
North Groton, NH
Bernard Offline
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North Groton, NH
Sounds like some great ideas working well in here.

Xerxes, I think I take exception to the idea of competition; it is not in the interest of music to see who is "best".


"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown
Re: Getting the kids to practice #915958
02/27/03 06:21 PM
02/27/03 06:21 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 51
Pennsylvania
urbustmtriswa2hi Offline
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urbustmtriswa2hi  Offline
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Posts: 51
Pennsylvania
I am 14 and in my early days of piano I did not like to practice. My parents made me and it was not fun. This went on for a couple of years but after that, as I advanced sugnificantly, I started to enjoy what I was playing more. I wish they had done some of your techniques so I could have appriciated the piano early on, but when I started to enjoy the music everything changed. I think that this applies with a lot of things; that in the beginning what you're doing may be not fun, but then when you pass a certain threshold of ability, you just practice because you like to.

p.s. My parents have changed and now they just like to hear me play.


What's the deal with cookies? Why not bakies?
Re: Getting the kids to practice #915959
02/27/03 06:41 PM
02/27/03 06:41 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 2,340
Massachusetts
BeeLady Offline
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BeeLady  Offline
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Posts: 2,340
Massachusetts
Ted, I don't know if you have kids or not, but I have to disagree. Making kids do things they do not always want to do prepares them for life. How many of us really want to deal with bills, the trash etc.

I do battle to some degree with my kids over practice. My 13 year old has made peace. He practices enough, but not enough to excel at his teachers highest level. That is fine with me, I have told him I don't expect him to be a pianist for a living. He has finally relaxed and practices everyday to please only himself.

My 8 year old battles me on everything. I have to "force" him to do homework, take a bath, and practice. But as I write this he has put the stereo on throughout the house with his latest piano piece. He is pumping the Lord of the Rings soundtrack so he can listen to the piece I am "forcing" him to play.

My parents forced me, and when I resumed lessons at 40 years of age, I called my parents to thank them for making me do it. smile


BeeLady

Life is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!
Re: Getting the kids to practice #915960
02/27/03 06:46 PM
02/27/03 06:46 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 69
USA
MichaelD Offline
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MichaelD  Offline
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Posts: 69
USA
Quote
Originally posted by ob1knabe:
My parents forced me, and when I resumed lessons at 40 years of age, I called my parents to thank them for making me do it.
Dear BeeLady, excellent point. The same with me... I am so thankful to my parents for forcing me to play the piano when young, and now it's the best thing that ever happened to me! (almost!)

Michael


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Re: Getting the kids to practice #915961
02/27/03 06:48 PM
02/27/03 06:48 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 69
USA
MichaelD Offline
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MichaelD  Offline
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USA
P.S. something went wrong with the quote thing, it should say "originally posted by BeeLady..." why did it do that... and how do you "quote" someone?


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Re: Getting the kids to practice #915962
02/27/03 07:30 PM
02/27/03 07:30 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,778
Auckland, New Zealand
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Ted Offline
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Joined: Apr 2002
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Auckland, New Zealand
Beelady:

Of course, you're so right, we do have to accustom children to work at things they don't want to - lack of self-discipline is probably the single most obvious problem in education (well, it is here in New Zealand, I can't speak for elsewhere)

However, the point I was trying to make is precisely that music isn't at all like putting out the rubbish, washing dishes and so on. I realise the analogy is well meant but I find it incorrect. Surely music ought to represent a fabulous liberated state, wherein we do precisely as we please - a condition of complete freedom, a means of embracing madness and passion without punishment. I don't achieve a transported state by carting out the rubbish bin.

I think the child must come to perceive this ecstasy before the regimes of rationality and discipline are brought into the picture. I am deeply grateful that my childhood piano teacher imparted this wonderful freedom to me instead of exercises and technique.

I embraced the discipline later on, of course, assiduously and of my own volition. I guess perhaps I disagree with you solely as to the sequence of events.

I suppose an even simpler explanation is that I was as mad as a two-bob watch as a kid and I'm as mad as a two-bob watch now !


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Getting the kids to practice #915963
02/28/03 02:08 AM
02/28/03 02:08 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 585
central oregon
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nancyww Offline
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Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 585
central oregon
Quote
Originally posted by Bernard:

Xerxes, I think I take exception to the idea of competition; it is not in the interest of music to see who is "best".
Bernard, Personally, I would agree with you that competition seems somehow inappropriate with regards to music, except something funny happened to my daughter when she entered her first competition. Suddently, she was motivated to practice...alot. The level of her playing improved tremendously and she enjoyed the experience, even tho she didn't "win". In fact, she can't wait to compete again next year. cool She thinks it is really fun!

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915964
02/28/03 04:44 AM
02/28/03 04:44 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 722
Singapore
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magnezium Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 722
Singapore
[coming from a kid]
The best way to motivate a kid to practise is...to buy him a new piano!!! hahaha... laugh

Re: Getting the kids to practice #915965
02/28/03 08:43 AM
02/28/03 08:43 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 290
New Jersey
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Gardener Offline
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New Jersey
When children first learn to walk and talk how overwhelmed they must feel. These two important tasks are riddled with technical difficulties, require great effort for quite some time and huge amounts of persistence. I have never known a parent who, when faced with their child's frustration at first attempts who questioned their movtives at helping their children with mastering these tasks. We don't say, 'Oh, poor baby! I'm just going to carry you for the rest of your life, no matter how big you get because I just can't make you try again and risk falling.' What if your child decided all these words were just too hard to learn? Would you give up? No! It is a given that your child must learn to walk and talk. And they will. And what is the methodology of our teaching them these complicated tasks?

When they make mistakes with words we call it *cute* and laugh with them. We model the correct pronounciation and cheer unabashedly when they get it right. We encourage their steps with praise and other rewards and show empathy when they fall.

Regardless of what you've decided is worthy of your child's mastery, borrowing from this methodolgy is a good plan. Children can't choose for themselves initially things that will be wonderful assests for them later in their life. Parents pick for them and they need to decide between the many possibilities and then stick with it. Just as you wouldn't accept your child's lack of interest in learning to talk you shouldn't accept *no* on other priorities you have set.....be it education, healthy eating styles, or even music.

When your child went to their first birthday party, did you stand outside the door before entering and beg them to eat a piece of cake for the first time? promise them the world if they would just try the icing? No! Why? Because you know it is a treat and tastes good. If you had done that though, would they be wary of trying it? Of course! Giving your child music lessons isn't a horrible thing........it is a gift! And if it isn't, it is only because you the parent bring to that some baggage of your past that has an aura of discomfort. (And most of us do have some of this regarding our parents motivational techniques employed to our music lessons. I'm one of eight children......my Mom called the piano her second 'babysitter'. When an argument broke out between the children, at least one was sent to the piano to practice to break up the fight. Many of my siblings perceived the piano as a punishment and won't touch a keyboard to this day for anything. I'm not sure that Skinner meant his redirection to be used in exactly this fashion. laugh )

But my point is.....look at the incredibly hard things young children accomplish. How do they do it? How do they accomplish them with a positive attitude about it? If music is something you wan't to give your children, approach it with the same persistence you would their learning to talk/walk. Encourage, reward and kind correction as necessary.

Ob1--I LOVE your approach! Love of music is most profound in the sharing of it with others! You've not only come up with a wonderful way of accomplishing practice positively, you're giving them another true feature of music.....the sharing of it's wonderful experience with those we love! smile


Gardener--
Two roads diverged in the woods and I ... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.(R. Frost)
Re: Getting the kids to practice #915966
02/28/03 08:53 AM
02/28/03 08:53 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 175
Land of Lincoln
ejks Offline
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Land of Lincoln
Really GREAT thread!!
ej
smile smile


People will tell you they know what they like but what they really mean is they like what they know.
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