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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927645 12/02/08 12:18 AM
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Danny, I sure hope you own a sail, because you sure are long winded! :p

Okay, I used the speeding example because it's just human nature to do what we want to do instead of doing what we should do! That being said, I understand that the policeman has my best interests in mind and he does not exactly want to see me wrapped around a tree!

So my point is that kids need to be shown how to organize their time. With the help of a parent/s who have that students' best interests in mind. Practicing takes discipline, AND students need to practice when they aren't dead-dog tired.

There are so many variables to be taken into consideration here, and because kids are so individual, the main point is that studying anything takes work at some point. I have parents who would like their kids to stop talking piano because that student is involved in so many other activities but the student won't give it up. Other students run the home because their parents are not acting as parents.

So my point is this. If students were asked if they would rather not attend school, schools would be empty!

Organization is key and students might be able to handle organizing their lives, but if not, that's where the parent who has their best interests in mind, can give guidance in helping the student to organize their schedule to include piano practice!

Learning to organize even a busy schedule can give one more free time, but more importantly, it's learned! Hopefully by a parent!


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927646 12/02/08 02:26 AM
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Quite agree Diane,

Regarding your comment about "organized" ... but don’t for goodness sake convey this good advice to your student ... otherwise you’ll lose them ... playing the piano should always be fun ... when the piano teacher unsuspectingly programmes the element of discipline into studies, the student gains on all fronts.

You’re so right in commenting that some chaps overburden the post with irresolute verbosity ... some of us never read such bleat ... a sure sign that the chappie (like Hamlet) can’t make up his mind ... and eventually gets pretty well the whole cast knocked off.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927647 12/02/08 07:02 AM
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Thats the problem with you teachers... you are so opinionated, you dont understand your students properly, if they did not practice enough its because they are not finding what your are setting them interesting enough, simple. You need to change things, adapt to their needs and desires.

As teachers could you tell me how to play pieces without mistakes??? On a serious note, I keep playing pieces, particulary by Bach, and I miss the odd note here and there, how do I stop this, and make it perfect, teach me that one smile please.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927648 12/02/08 07:24 AM
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mwf, so you want $1,000 knowledge for free? laugh

Actually, the answer is already in these pages.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927649 12/02/08 07:29 AM
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if they did not practice enough its because they are not finding what your are setting them interesting enough, simple.
Preserve me from the teacher whose first goal is to follow my interests and wishes, and tries to make it "interesting" on that plane! My interest lies in what I do not yet know, what I have not yet imagined, and how to do things that I do not yet know how to do. If my lessons are limited to where I am already, what's the point?

*Some* students might want this, but not all.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927650 12/02/08 07:46 AM
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Teachers spend too much time focusing on old boring learning techniques, people want to play what they hear, not just what they see on the written score. Teach them to play by ear as well as reading music, which is pointless anyway
As an adult student, I am concerned when I see teachers being told what ** we ** want. Because so many of us do want that kind of teaching, chances are that when it's my turn to take lessons, I will be addressed in that manner too. If we have never been taught before, we will believe that this is what music lessons are about, and not realize we're missing out on something.

I am interested * in particular * in learning technique, as well as the theory and history that will enable me to play the instrument and the music well. But I may fall in with a teacher who will give these things short shrift, because of the perception of what many students want. I have decided that if I begin lessons on a new instrument, I must be proactive and actually state that I want what is necessary - I will not leave this to chance.

Mwf, have you had a chance to read the two surveys among adult students? One was done by a teacher, and another one was done by a student. Both of them addressed what we actually want, what we found lacking, drawing on our personal experiences. You will find boring technique as well as theory, and organization to lessons, as priorities among many adult students.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927651 12/02/08 07:57 AM
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Originally posted by keystring:
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if they did not practice enough its because they are not finding what your are setting them interesting enough, simple.
Preserve me from the teacher whose first goal is to follow my interests and wishes, and tries to make it "interesting"
He is right. The material must be interesting motivating and stimulating. But there's a big difference between making things fakely interesting by using cliches (turning everything into a game, talking down to the student, never challenging the student's mind) and making thing genuinely intellectually interesting. Interesting also means challenging, also means demanding and also means complex. What is needed is putting the whole teaching material into context.
Necessity -> motivation - > effort.

This actually IS making things interesting.

Young children lose their interest when something is not interesting and yet they can spend two hours staring at a fish bowl. It is actually the watered down child friendly nonsense which kills their interest not the complexity and intricacies of life wonders.

There's this misconception that challenging must be synonim with boring. But boredom is not acceptable, nothing should ever be boring. If any kind of material happens to be perceived as boring it should not exist and be removed from the face of the earth. The myth that we must suck it up and suffer through boring material in order to learn anything worthy is, in my opinion, the most dangerous one. Not even cryptic concepts should be boring. Hard, challenging, complex, engaging, dense, thick are all ways to mean "requiring effort" and what requires effort can't be boring. Boring effort or engaging boredom are oxymorons.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927652 12/02/08 08:23 AM
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I don't find listening to the same old excuses week after week very interesting or stimulating.

It really doesn't take much to work out why a student is not practicing. A few simple questions will get to the bottom of it. Then you can advise them on what to do about it but at the end of the day that is all you can do. You can't physically do the practice for them. You either accept what they do (or don't for whatever reason) and work with it or you tell them to go elsewhere.

All this talk about what is or isn't interesting is very interesting. In order to find something interesting you have to be interested. You could get the most dynamic and innovative teacher to teach me about needlework and it would be pointless. I'm not interested. It's not their fault and there is nothing they could do about it. I have known plenty of piano students who feel the same way about piano as I do about needlework.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927653 12/02/08 08:26 AM
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Danny, just because someone says or thinks something is boring doesn't mean it actually is boring.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927654 12/02/08 08:43 AM
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Originally posted by chueh:
I told both the students and the parents that practicing every single day is very important. However, parents say that they have too much homework already from the schools. Sometimes they finish their homework after 9pm. I don't really know what's going on. Perhaps, the students are doing something else before 8 pm, and then do their homework. Thus, there is no time for practicing piano. I am not sure, really. However, I told them that even just 5 minutes EVERYDAY helps refreshing everything and keeps things flow.
This is the reason why they are getting nowhere.

NOT because the teaching is not stimulating.

NOT because the material is boring.

NOT because they don't understand what to do.

These kids have no support in learning the piano. Of course they are not interested or motivated, why should they be? Piano is just something else in the long line of activities in which kids like this take part once a week. Sounds to me like it's pretty far down the list of priorities at that. I am afraid that there is nothing any teacher could do.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927655 12/02/08 09:11 AM
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Originally posted by Chris H.:
Danny, just because someone says or thinks something is boring doesn't mean it actually is boring.
If you think something is boring before doing it, you are right. But if you perceive an activity as boring there are only two possible options: you might not be interested in what you're asked to study (but this is the fault of allowing students who are forced to study piano against their well) or the material is out of context, badly explained, in a vacumm and not stimulating or motivated and devoid of a clear purpose.

Boredom is not something which exists per se, it is the symptom of something else. Nothing procues boredome more than motivation. If any of us were asked to do something for the sake of it, day by day, ignoring what contribute we're really providing, ignoring what's the purpose of our actions and the motivation behind them, we would develop boredom in a moment. Compare that to the feeling of working (providing blankets, cooking food, fixing floors, rescueing animals, digging in the dirt) after a flood has hit your community. No matter how hard, repetitive, aching the work is, the motivation wins over everything else and boredom or disinterest doesn't have a chance to develop.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927656 12/02/08 10:23 AM
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I think that there are lots of kids who take piano lessons who are not remotely interested. That doesn't mean they are forced to do it against their will though. They don't mind going to their lessons, in fact some of them quite enjoy the lesson itself. Going to a lesson once a week causes them no bother whatsoever unless they have a teacher who scolds them. They do it to keep their parents happy and because they can pretend that they can play the piano. Some might even like the thought of being good at it but not enough to do what it takes. They are indifferent.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927657 12/02/08 11:08 AM
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Originally posted by Andromaque:
TimR,
you said "the grade" as an incentive for your kids. What do you mean? Are their piano lessons part of their schooling? Do teachers here actually grade their students (as in report card type grading)?
In my mind the piano lessons were part of their schooling, but not in my kids' minds.

No, what I'm referring to is an opinion I had back then that I now think is wrong.

I observed that my kids studied hard without prompting when they had a class in school that produced a grade - math, English, didn't matter.

I also observed that my kids had to be nagged to practice piano.

I thought perhaps the difference was in having the grade assessment for the one and not for the other. There is fairly immediate reward or punishment for not doing your math homework. A or F, 94 or 37, whatever. There is none for piano - I'm not sure if ANY child understands how well or poorly he is doing at piano lessons.

If that were the only difference, then practice effort would be increased by getting a meaningful grade each week and at the end of the semester.

But I no longer think that's the only difference. Yes, we have a causal relationship for homework: study = grade. But we have an intermediate step. Kids have a shared worldview that includes homework = good AND homework = grades. (and maybe or maybe not grades = good) It is that mindset, that homework is an ADL like brushing teeth and getting dressed, that allows the connection to be made.

And kids may or may not grow up with any clue that this might also be true of piano practice. Growing up in my family you would have heard 2 parents and 5 kids practicing some kind of instrument daily. Growing up in my wife's family (we were discussing this yesterday) you would not have heard this and the concept might be new.

It probably is still worth trying to grade piano lessons as an experiment.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927658 12/02/08 11:23 AM
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I used to grade each lesson. If the students scored a 90 or above, they'd get a sticker, and if they got 4 stickers in a row, they'd get a prize. The grade was based mainly on practicing. I think it was something like 10 points per day practicing their repertoire, 20 points for scales/technical exercises, 10 points for theory. I found, however, that for the students this worked for, they were the ones who practiced regularly anyway, and didn't care much about the rewards. There were a few that the incentives helped motivate them a bit, but it was a lot of keeping track of things for little results. I still have them keep a practice log and give them specifics on what to practice and how and approximate times for how long if there is an issue with not spending enough time on the bench. But in all actuality, there will always be students who understand the work = results formula, and those who do not. Sometimes the value of extrinsic incentives will help, but many times not. It is a life lesson that needs to be learned there.

I teach students who do not yet have this lesson learned, because it may dawn on them many years after they've quit piano and been in the workforce. They may reflect back on their times sitting at the piano (or being told to by their teacher and parents) and realize that they need to work hard to get better results. One never really knows the impact that they have on a child's life, but we have to have faith that they will understand the value at some point. Better that than dropping all students who don't already understand it.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927659 12/02/08 12:48 PM
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Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
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Originally posted by Chris H.:
[qb] Danny, just because someone says or thinks something is boring doesn't mean it actually is boring.
If you think something is boring before doing it, you are right.
I love doing jigsaw puzzles (I did 3,000 piece one while my husband was deployed,) and most everybody I speak to about it can not comprehend how I can do that. I enjoy the process, most people do not apparently. End of story.

There's an analogy in there.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927660 12/02/08 02:19 PM
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Originally posted by Sal_:
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Originally posted by Danny Niklas:
[b]
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Originally posted by Chris H.:
[qb] Danny, just because someone says or thinks something is boring doesn't mean it actually is boring.
If you think something is boring before doing it, you are right.
I love doing jigsaw puzzles (I did 3,000 piece one while my husband was deployed,) and most everybody I speak to about it can not comprehend how I can do that. I enjoy the process, most people do not apparently. End of story.

There's an analogy in there. [/b]
jigsaw puzzles are a good example of motivation behind effort. When you start playing with them, you start a challenge with yourself, your motivation is congratulating with yourself for completing the figure, it's something you started that you can't just leave incompleted. I know people who didn't care about jigsaw puzzles until they helped me complete a border. So they started to realize they had set the first stones and suddenly the need to build something from those stones and complete it too, became a new motivation which made the whole experience challenging yet enjoyable. Everyone who haven't set a first stone, who is just a passive observer of the whole process, can't really understand where the willingness to effort come from.
In a way it's also the reason why is far easier to find motivated to complete a piece you started, than starting a new piece from scratch.

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927661 12/02/08 03:42 PM
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My god... you go so in depth, and its needless. The question is about piano and teaching, you treat it as rocket science literally laugh

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927662 12/02/08 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by Morodiene:
I used to grade each lesson. The grade was based mainly on practicing. I think it was something like 10 points per day practicing their repertoire, 20 points for scales/technical exercises, 10 points for theory.
This is better than nothing, but (risking veering off topic, but maybe not)

We all know some kids need three hours to do math homework and others breeze through in ten minutes.

But when the homework is graded and they get a 92, they know exactly how they did. When the exam grade comes back they know how they did relative to perfect mastery, relative to everybody else in their class, and relative to how they did last quarter. We calculate percentiles, we grade on a curve, all predictable and understandable.

Kids keep asking how they're doing, right? I know for sure adults do. But they don't really get an answer.


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Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927663 12/02/08 09:33 PM
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Originally posted by Chris H.:
I think that there are lots of kids who take piano lessons who are not remotely interested. That doesn't mean they are forced to do it against their will though. They don't mind going to their lessons, in fact some of them quite enjoy the lesson itself. Going to a lesson once a week causes them no bother whatsoever unless they have a teacher who scolds them. They do it to keep their parents happy and because they can pretend that they can play the piano. Some might even like the thought of being good at it but not enough to do what it takes. They are indifferent.
I think that's it, and I really don't think that there's any fixing that (other than begging the parents to stop torturing their kid). I can think of any number of activities that I would be happy to do once a week, with a friendly teacher, and extremely miserable if I had to do them for an hour a day every day.

Let's reverse the situation. Think about something you have no interest in: basketweaving, say; or cactus breeding; or bowling; or needlepoint. Something that fills you with the deepest indifference. Then, sign yourself up for beginner lessons in that discipline, and force yourself to practice that for an hour a day, every day. Note that this might take time and energy away from piano playing and from other things you like to do - but the basketweaving should take priority. How long will you last, and how enthusiastic will you be?

Re: How can I help my students when they don't practice???
#927664 12/02/08 10:52 PM
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Originally posted by Larisa:
Let's reverse the situation. Think about something you have no interest in: basketweaving, say; or cactus breeding; or bowling; or needlepoint. Something that fills you with the deepest indifference. Then, sign yourself up for beginner lessons in that discipline, and force yourself to practice that for an hour a day, every day. Note that this might take time and energy away from piano playing and from other things you like to do - but the basketweaving should take priority. How long will you last, and how enthusiastic will you be?
Sounds like high school!


gotta go practice
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