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Slow Progress Among Beginners

Posted By: AZNpiano

Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/03/18 06:32 PM

Is there a general trend today that beginner pianists (age 5-8) are progressing slower than ever?

I've always taught beginners, and I have had kids who progressed slowly in the past. But now it seems like every single student is going slower and slower. Almost every student is on a one-year plan to finish the Primer book.

Some of these kids' slow progress I can attribute to having too many activities. But I also have slow students whose ONLY activity is piano.

Or maybe it's just bad luck that I get stuck with these kids? I do have a lot of beginners right now, but I sincerely doubt they will ever get out of method books, at the pace they are progressing.
Posted By: Andamento

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/03/18 08:06 PM

I've had a variety of young beginning students over the years, and their progress has always been a mixed bag--some move along efficiently, some don't. These are some of the general trends I've noticed (though there are always a few exceptions in each category):

1. Students with insanely busy activity schedules (there are many more kids like that these days than 20 years ago) progress slower than those with a reasonable activity schedule.

2. All other things being equal, girls tend to progress faster than boys. (I hope that comment doesn't get me into trouble. It is simply an observation I have made, based on anecdotal evidence in my own studio. There have been exceptions, in both my studio and those of others', and most of the highest-achieving student players in my area are, in fact, boys. Which is a whole other discussion. But when it comes to beginners that I've had, the girls tend to progress more rapidly through beginning method books.)

3. The kids playing on 61-key keyboards progress more slowly than those with acoustic pianos at home. Are a lot of your beginning students practicing on keyboards instead of on acoustic pianos or at least good digitals with touch-sensitive keys and such?

Also, are your current beginners closer to the younger end of the range you mention, AZN (like 5 and 6)? For the most part, my 7- and 8-year-old beginners have historically progressed faster than my 5- and 6-year old beginners.

I wonder, too, how much current method series may contribute to slower progress? Many of the methods are slower-paced than those that were popular decades ago. Not that the "good old days" were always that great--there have been some much-needed improvements in newer methods--but perhaps the slower pace of the books themselves affects student enthusiasm and progress?

Yours is an interesting question to contemplate.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/03/18 10:00 PM

Originally Posted by Andamento
Also, are your current beginners closer to the younger end of the range you mention, AZN (like 5 and 6)? For the most part, my 7- and 8-year-old beginners have historically progressed faster than my 5- and 6-year old beginners.

They are all spread out in age. And they are all horrible. There's just one beginner who is "normal," and even he is getting frustrated at the 2A level. I have two 6-year-old kids who literally forget everything they learned in the previous lesson, and every lesson is like the same thing, over and over again. This might be a problem with their general intelligence. Another one (9) switched to a different instrument that I teach, not having finished the 1B book after two years of lessons. I gave up on another pair of siblings (5 and 10) who are beyond hope.

I am down to one talented student in this age range, and he's almost 9. He's not as talented as the kids I've had before, yet he sounds like Mozart compared to these beginners. Studio Recitals are becoming a pity fest. And the two 10-year-old boys I have are so far ahead of this group, the difference is night and day.

Originally Posted by Andamento
I wonder, too, how much current method series may contribute to slower progress? Many of the methods are slower-paced than those that were popular decades ago. Not that the "good old days" were always that great--there have been some much-needed improvements in newer methods--but perhaps the slower pace of the books themselves affects student enthusiasm and progress?

Oh, no. I love the modern series, and I got extremely good results out of them just a few years ago, circa 2012. The group that grew up with Alfred Premier are now playing things super advanced.

Really, the phenomenon started maybe 5 years ago. I started to notice that kids are becoming more and more distracted. Can't focus. And very low verbal and spatial intelligence.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 12:12 AM

In general, it's good for my beginners to go slowly. Everything you ask them to do should be quite manageable. Often, a new piece will only have one new challenge, for instance introducing a quarter rest or repeat signs.

I use Leila Fletcher Book One and one other book. In this book, I want them to really sound nice before progressing to the next piece. That usually takes four weeks. Of course, some pieces they are on their first week, second week, etc. so it's not dull. For a waltz like Autumn Snow Storm, I want to hear a lilt with a stronger beat one. For many pieces, I'm asking them to conduct or to tap the rhythm. For all pieces, I'm trying to get them to sing the song as well.

If you concentrate on making a nice diminuendo at the ends of phrases, lifting at the ends of phrases, having one note that is the "boss" in a phrase, etc., you will find you get more depth from the children, even though they pick up the notes a bit more slowly. The benefit is that they care about all the parameters of good music, rather than just buzzing along and adding notes.

It might be time to retire your beginner book, and try Boris Berlin's ABC or Leila Fletcher. Most of my beginners take a long time to get to introductory level, but they have nice tone and good hand posture, and they are not pushed to progress. Later, after a few years, you can really proceed more quickly. I manage to get some of them to finish intermediate level by age fifteen or so.

What exactly is your hurry?
Posted By: Andamento

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 12:35 AM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I started to notice that kids are becoming more and more distracted. Can't focus.


I'd be willing to bet that the proliferation of tech in children's lives these days is contributing to their distractibility. The push for screens at earlier and earlier ages in the classroom, along with many parents' inability or unwillingness to limit their children's use of it in the home, is, from what I've read, having deleterious effects on attention spans, along with perhaps a whole host of other problems we don't fully understand yet.

You might find the answer to why beginning students are more distracted / less focused by asking parents how many total hours a day of screen time their kids are getting now (at home and school), and compare it to how many total hours of screen time your older students got each day when they were 5-8 years old. I'm guessing today's eight-and-under crowd are using screens more each day than today's teenagers were at that age.
Posted By: IosPlayer

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:05 AM

I think you are just seeing the evidence first hand. ADD, ADHD all diagnosed in kids at epidemic levels. The drugging of very young children, sometimes with several substances. Sure, these children existed before. We can remember hyperactive kids when we were in school, but it is a lot more prevalent today. Technology absorption, faster and faster edits in media, diet?, toxic environments, perhaps even vaccinations. It is akin to climate change, I am afraid. I am not saying it is related, but the rise in autism and Asberger's Syndrome has skyrocketed. All part of our golden age. Inability to concentrate, inability to connect. Kids have it a lot tougher and unfortunately parents are inadequately prepared for the realities that are almost impossible to shield their children from. Sorry to sound like I know anything.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:10 AM

Originally Posted by IosPlayer
I think you are just seeing the evidence first hand. ADD, ADHD all diagnosed in kids at epidemic levels. The drugging of very young children, sometimes with several substances. Sure, these children existed before. We can remember hyperactive kids when we were in school, but it is a lot more prevalent today. Technology absorption, faster and faster edits in media, diet?, toxic environments, perhaps even vaccinations. It is akin to climate change, I am afraid. I am not saying it is related, but the rise in autism and Asberger's Syndrome has skyrocketed. All part of our golden age. Inability to concentrate, inability to connect. Kids have it a lot tougher and unfortunately parents are inadequately prepared for the realities that are almost impossible to shield their children from. Sorry to sound like I know anything.

Correlation does not imply causation
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:16 AM

Do you think parents are less involved with your current students? I've had some good luck with beginners the last couple of years, but mainly with those whose parents have been sitting in (not involved in the lesson, but at least in the room). I think adults are also using phones etc. a lot more and maybe this has an effect on supervision of practice at home and the quality of attention that parents give their kids?
As to the question of what is the rush to progress, it's become clear to me that students have to achieve some level of fluency and ability to play satisfying music by a certain point or they will drop out. Other activities will become more interesting than plunking out beginner tunes, or school work will become more pressing by the time they get around to middle school age. It seems like there's a really small window of time where students need to feel competent and interested enough to continue.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:22 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
What exactly is your hurry?

Just to put it in perspective: I used to be able to get any piano student (even those of average intelligence) to sonatinas by the end of the 3rd year of lessons. Some get there by the 2nd year. And they all played well. Several of them are now in high school and playing very advanced repertoire.

Now I have kids who are still floundering in method books for years on end.

I think I actually got better as a teacher the last 5 years, so something does not compute.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:31 AM

Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Do you think parents are less involved with your current students? I've had some good luck with beginners the last couple of years, but mainly with those whose parents have been sitting in (not involved in the lesson, but at least in the room). I think adults are also using phones etc. a lot more and maybe this has an effect on supervision of practice at home and the quality of attention that parents give their kids?

That's a mixed bag, too. Some of the worst students have next to no parental support at home. I also teach quite a few kids who have nannies, so parents are completely out of the lessons picture. Even those parents who are present during the lesson, the phone never leaves their hands.

Originally Posted by pianist_lady
As to the question of what is the rush to progress, it's become clear to me that students have to achieve some level of fluency and ability to play satisfying music by a certain point or they will drop out. Other activities will become more interesting than plunking out beginner tunes, or school work will become more pressing by the time they get around to middle school age. It seems like there's a really small window of time where students need to feel competent and interested enough to continue.

Well said.
Posted By: Groove On

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 04:13 AM

Originally Posted by Andamento
2. All other things being equal, girls tend to progress faster than boys. (I hope that comment doesn't get me into trouble. It is simply an observation I have made, based on anecdotal evidence in my own studio.

I encourage you to not waffle or be apologetic with this statement. Boys are different from girls and need to be treated differently to thrive. As a boy I went through several piano teachers before my mother found one who understood how to handle a high-energy boys like myself. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have learned to play the piano.

My other previous teachers did very well with all my female cousins, but it wasn’t until I found my teacher that I understood how differently I learned from them. And all my brothers and male cousins play the piano because of this specific teacher.
Posted By: Andamento

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 05:00 AM

Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by Andamento
2. All other things being equal, girls tend to progress faster than boys. (I hope that comment doesn't get me into trouble. It is simply an observation I have made, based on anecdotal evidence in my own studio.

I encourage you to not waffle or be apologetic with this statement. Boys are different from girls and need to be treated differently to thrive. As a boy I went through several piano teachers before my mother found one who understood how to handle a high-energy boys like myself. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have learned to play the piano.

My other previous teachers did very well with all my female cousins, but it wasn’t until I found my teacher that I understood how differently I learned from them. And all my brothers and male cousins play the piano because of this specific teacher.


I appreciate your comment, Groove On. Thank you. And I'm glad you and your brothers and male cousins found the teacher you mention. That's a blessing.
Posted By: fofig

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 06:06 AM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Originally Posted by pianist_lady
As to the question of what is the rush to progress, it's become clear to me that students have to achieve some level of fluency and ability to play satisfying music by a certain point or they will drop out. Other activities will become more interesting than plunking out beginner tunes, or school work will become more pressing by the time they get around to middle school age. It seems like there's a really small window of time where students need to feel competent and interested enough to continue.

Well said.


I think this the main point. I have the impression the compared to us (I am from the '70) kids are much more exposed to stimuli and grow at much faster pace. Technology is factor but just a variable of the equation. Most of the kids that would study piano (at least here in Europe) at an early stage of their life are likely to be involved in many other activities and have really no time to play and to develop the love for it.
As a parent, I think you need to help to be consistent with practice and high expectation right from the beginning, because playing an instruments give satisfaction on long time scales.
As you are saying you have a closing window and you should be ready to accept that perhaps piano is not for your kid, he might go back to it (or something else later)

I find also that peers are also a good source of inspiration, my daughter entered into the a public conservatory last summer. She joined the class of a piano teacher who has students from her age (7) to pre-university. The way it works is that when you are ready you have an exam to go to the next level, if you fail you are kindly asked to leave the school and to go for private tuition. My daughter, for example, will have her first exam no later than her 3rd year.
At the same time, this weekend, she had her first concert with this new class. The teachers picks the students who are well prepared so that not all of them are allowed to play. She played with all sort of students up to some really advanced teen and young adult playing impressive virtuosic pieces.
Back home, the evening, she was super motivated and jumped on the piano as soon as she could, something she generally does not do.
This was very different from last year when she was the only one in her peers who had to practice piano every single day, now, at this music school, she is surrounded by kids of her age doing that (she is expected to attend a class of solfege and music theory as well).

My points:
- It is important to make understand kids that music is fun but it is not a game
- It is not for everyone, but everyone who proceed had to learn some form of consistency in their practice
- Peers effect can play a role.

I am no piano teacher, but I am a teacher in other disciplines.

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by IosPlayer
I think you are just seeing the evidence first hand. ADD, ADHD all diagnosed in kids at epidemic levels. The drugging of very young children, sometimes with several substances. Sure, these children existed before. We can remember hyperactive kids when we were in school, but it is a lot more prevalent today. Technology absorption, faster and faster edits in media, diet?, toxic environments, perhaps even vaccinations. It is akin to climate change, I am afraid. I am not saying it is related, but the rise in autism and Asberger's Syndrome has skyrocketed. All part of our golden age. Inability to concentrate, inability to connect. Kids have it a lot tougher and unfortunately parents are inadequately prepared for the realities that are almost impossible to shield their children from. Sorry to sound like I know anything.

Correlation does not imply causation



As for the claim of an epidemic rise of autism, this is most likely due to an increase of the diagnosis, an interesting article here:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-real-reasons-autism-rates-are-up-in-the-u-s/

My guess that a similar effect exist for ADHD.

Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:10 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Is there a general trend today that beginner pianists (age 5-8) are progressing slower than ever?

I've always taught beginners, and I have had kids who progressed slowly in the past. But now it seems like every single student is going slower and slower. Almost every student is on a one-year plan to finish the Primer book.

Some of these kids' slow progress I can attribute to having too many activities. But I also have slow students whose ONLY activity is piano.

Or maybe it's just bad luck that I get stuck with these kids? I do have a lot of beginners right now, but I sincerely doubt they will ever get out of method books, at the pace they are progressing.

It's your students. I have a kid about to turn next Feb. He is mildly autistic, and he's not a quick kid. So his patient mother and I have been working for about a year and a half, since May of 2017. I won't teach small fries without a parent in the lesson, and I teach the parents how to drill at home. This mom is great. She got the autism diagnosis last spring. He has other LDs.

She asked me about her 4 year-old, who just turned 5 in October. I said, "Probably too early, but bring him in." So she did, and he's just about caught up with his brother in about three lessons. The advantage is that because I've taught the mom how to work at home, she's now very good, probably better than about 99% of the idiots who claim to be teachers. This little guy already finds all lines and space in both clefs. He's using my chart, but he will be off it by the beginning of 2019. He's already playing both hands, playing a two octave scale, B major. You'd love to teach this kid.

I think you must have bad karma!

I have a teen girl who has been stuck on the easiest piece I teach with just three easy chords in the LH for probably 6 months. Every week she sucks the air out of my life. I count the seconds until she leaves.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 02:26 PM

I'm noticing a lot more students (and parents) with significant levels of anxiety than earlier in my (non-piano teaching) career. A few days ago, several of us old timers were joking about needing new normative data for standardized anxiety measures, because 'everyone' is scoring in the significant range now while formerly it was normally distributed.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 03:36 PM

I play music with a group so the focus and concentration has to be there. Part of the problem may be the students' attention span. Many people including myself spend a significant amount of time online. And we learned to flip through half-dozen pages of materials in a short time.

Otherwise, there are already a lot of reference materials online. You find all sorts of student pieces performed by teachers & students. Many of us would have listened to at least 1 version of "Minuet in G" from the Anna M Notebook before learning to play it. We get a sense which notes are sharps & flats, tempo, dynamics and phrasing by watching a few online videos. Perfecting a piece has become easier.

A lot of parents enroll their kids in music lessons. In a lot of cases the child just doesn't have a lot of interest. It's just 1 of his/her extracurricular activities. I know 1 kid who went to a Yamaha music program for about 2 years and quit. His year-end recital last year was probably the last time he would touch a piano. The mother who accompanied him to his lessons thought she was practicing piano more than he did. He gets into cooking and experimenting with recipes. Maybe he is going to be a chef in the future but playing music is definitely off the list. The people who are into music like myself would spend time practicing everyday. Those who are enrolled by their parents without an interest will make excuses not to practice.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 03:52 PM

Originally Posted by malkin
A few days ago, several of us old timers were joking about needing new normative data for standardized anxiety measures, because 'everyone' is scoring in the significant range now while formerly it was normally distributed.

I started life in the "significant" range (well, almost by definition since I have OCD). They'd need to come up with an entirely different range for me by now!
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/04/18 10:09 PM

Originally Posted by malkin
I'm noticing a lot more students (and parents) with significant levels of anxiety than earlier in my (non-piano teaching) career. A few days ago, several of us old timers were joking about needing new normative data for standardized anxiety measures, because 'everyone' is scoring in the significant range now while formerly it was normally distributed.

Is there a way to measure the lack of focus?
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/05/18 12:17 AM

I would ordinarily only attempt Clementi's Sonatina in C, opus 36, no. 1, and pieces like Arabesque by Burgmuller after four years of piano lessons. So, in their fifth year of piano.

Music is not a race to learn notes. I'd focus more on breadth of literature (horizontal learning) and less on vertical climbing.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/05/18 06:13 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Music is not a race to learn notes. I'd focus more on breadth of literature (horizontal learning) and less on vertical climbing.

I agree music is not a race to learn notes, but you need to realize that--at some point--students will get bored. Arabesque is in Alfred Premier level 4 and the Clementi is in AP level 5. Most of my current beginners probably will quit piano by level 2B.
Posted By: Groove On

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/05/18 06:58 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Music is not a race to learn notes. I'd focus more on breadth of literature (horizontal learning) and less on vertical climbing.

This is a nice way to express it. I think for us students just being made aware that there is a difference - can make a big difference.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/05/18 01:27 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by malkin
I'm noticing a lot more students (and parents) with significant levels of anxiety than earlier in my (non-piano teaching) career. A few days ago, several of us old timers were joking about needing new normative data for standardized anxiety measures, because 'everyone' is scoring in the significant range now while formerly it was normally distributed.

Is there a way to measure the lack of focus?


There are assessments for everything, because there is money to be made in to be made in publication and administration.

https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-assessments-and-tests/
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/05/18 01:29 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by malkin
A few days ago, several of us old timers were joking about needing new normative data for standardized anxiety measures, because 'everyone' is scoring in the significant range now while formerly it was normally distributed.

I started life in the "significant" range (well, almost by definition since I have OCD). They'd need to come up with an entirely different range for me by now!


Nah--once you're out in that skinny little part at either end of the curve you might as well just get comfortable and plan to stay there.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/06/18 04:30 AM

I agree with pianist lady that a certain fluidity must come. But not having that fluidity doesn't seem to stop many of my students. The biggest push for learning piano has to be between the ages of seven and twelve. In fact, I'd recommend twice weekly lessons to capitalize on those golden years. But the parents wouldn't sacrifice for that.

As for AZN, I don't know the mixed bag of students you've gotten. There are some really slow kids out there though. They lack curiosity and they don't practice, and it's plugging for the teacher. All you can do is love them. Perhaps that's all that counts anyhow. So few of them go on to anything.
Posted By: Whizbang

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/06/18 05:19 AM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
Perhaps that's all that counts anyhow.


I hope it does, I think it does.

I would say that I had teaches that kept an ember burning, even if from their standpoint they were just marking time and just being positive.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/06/18 01:34 PM

Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by Candywoman
Perhaps that's all that counts anyhow.


I hope it does, I think it does.


I agree that it is necessary, but in most cases, not sufficient.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/06/18 08:19 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
As for AZN, I don't know the mixed bag of students you've gotten. There are some really slow kids out there though. They lack curiosity and they don't practice, and it's plugging for the teacher.

Let's see...have you ever taught a student who needs three months to "find" middle C? And then he can't find treble G and bass F if his life depended on it? Things that take normal kids one minute to understand would take this boy about six weeks, with frequent lapses of memory. On top of that, he can't maintain a steady beat of quarter notes. He just likes piano because it makes sounds. Fortunately, his parents are highly educated and they appreciate how I teach their son.

Originally Posted by Candywoman
All you can do is love them. Perhaps that's all that counts anyhow. So few of them go on to anything.

I prefer not to see things this way.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 08:23 AM

Perhaps the child has FAS.

As for the end result of all of our efforts: I've taught about twenty-two years. Not one student who has gone on to "make anything of it." Some still play some piano years later. One adult student who began from scratch and played about three years went on to play at her church.

Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 03:06 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman


As for the end result of all of our efforts: I've taught about twenty-two years. Not one student who has gone on to "make anything of it." Some still play some piano years later. One adult student who began from scratch and played about three years went on to play at her church.



Certainly, many of them have gone on to become decent human beings, and I believe that their music teachers had a part in that.
Posted By: chasingrainbows

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 03:45 PM

AZN, I have several students like that - one took lessons for 6 months before coming to me. He's been with me a year now (with a break all summer) and still cannot understand that Middle C in the bass clef is still Middle C! Cannot read bass C, if there is finger #5 attached to the note. Plays G instead. Even if he just played the "real" G in the short song before that. Where is the memory in these youngsters? I still believe it's lack of practice, rather than lack of intelligence in most cases. As well as the age factor. Most of the kids I've taught who start at age 6, in my experience, are slow learners.

Another youngster can play 8th notes correctly in one measure, yet mess them up in the next. I've written in counting, we've clapped, sang, counted for years. Still doesn't get it. At some point, I feel it's my inability to find the right solution.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 03:45 PM

Originally Posted by Candywoman
: I've taught about twenty-two years. Not one student who has gone on to "make anything of it."


Perhaps look at this from the other end: Ask those who do have careers in music -- for instance, AF of M members -- how they got started.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 03:59 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Candywoman
: I've taught about twenty-two years. Not one student who has gone on to "make anything of it."


Perhaps look at this from the other end: Ask those who do have careers in music -- for instance, AF of M members -- how they got started.

The answer probably depends on country of residence. At least for classical pianists in the US, most probably started with private piano teachers, since I haven't heard of a undergraduate music school/conservatory that doesn't have audition requirements for incoming performance majors, and private piano teachers are how Americans roll. But if you look at other countries, such as Russia, most would probably say they first learned piano in a children's "music school" - with a teacher, to be sure, but one in music school. Private teachers were almost unheard of until more recent times. (Anyone from Eastern Europe want, want to comment on this?)

The teachers on this forum are professional musicians. You could just ask them how they started. Private teacher, music school, self-taught? And if it was a private teacher, what was it that teacher did that made them want to go into the profession of music?
Posted By: missbelle

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 06:52 PM

I have had a few transfer students this semester. One student, when I asked him what note is this, and he said finger two. He was so locked in to middle C position that he no longer saw anything else.
I tell my students that you can play any note any finger anytime anywhere.

As to the original question, my answer is that it is very difficult to progress when the only time that you touch a keyboard of any sort is at the actual lesson.
I have students say, oh I could not practice because my brother had a soccer game.

note, these students are through a private school where I teach Co curricular lessons after school. My homeschool students or public school students that come to my home studio, do practice, and we'll have an absolutely lovely recital this weekend.


for several of the school students, I am simply a babysitter, a well-paid babysitter, that fits into their schedule of carpool and siblings and other activities.
I have a couple of parents that sit outside in the hallway texting on their phone. I practically beg them to come into the lessons to watch how I have their children clap and count and write and do theory and work on the whiteboard and fill in all the gaps that we're not done the week before at home. And the parent says oh no, they get nervous if I am in there, or, I am just too busy and need to catch up for myself.

The school recital will be a lot of plink plink plink one note at a time. I am filling in some children's pieces with a duet, but not everyone.

Slow progress is better than no progress. It is the no progress that drives me batty. Each week I mark on a progress page and take notes on my students.

This is my simple revelation, the students that practice at home, maybe with or without a parent guidance, will make some progress. The students that never take their books out of a bag, will never progress more than I can get them in a lesson, and it may mean the same lesson over and over and over, presented in different ways. It is not because they do not understand, it is because they are saying they want to learn a language, but only willing to put in barely thirty minutes once a week.

Eventually they will drop, or maybe move on to a new teacher. I saw one of my old students that never practiced, and half the time did not even bring her books to a lesson, has moved on to another teacher at the same school. Based on the piece that she is playing, it is not a Christmas piece, which I take time out to give to my students. It is from the lesson books, and it is only a few pages up from where she left me. so this entire semester, she has progressed about four pages in the level one book. She is 11 years old.

You cannot make them care more than you do.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 07:39 PM

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Another youngster can play 8th notes correctly in one measure, yet mess them up in the next. I've written in counting, we've clapped, sang, counted for years. Still doesn't get it. At some point, I feel it's my inability to find the right solution.

I'm convinced that some kids just never learn rhythm via notation, but they can imitate it by "feel." Make videos of the piece and make them copy it during practice. Over and over again. If they still don't understand rhythm that way, they are hopeless.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 07:42 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
The teachers on this forum are professional musicians. You could just ask them how they started. Private teacher, music school, self-taught? And if it was a private teacher, what was it that teacher did that made them want to go into the profession of music?

To be completely honest, had I started my teaching career with the dull kids I have right now, I would have never picked piano-teaching as a career. It's worse than watching paint dry. I guess I was lucky to have so many talented students during my first five years of teaching, that I thought I was The Most Amazing Teacher.
Posted By: missbelle

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 08:48 PM

oh, I did not mean to say something that might sound disparaging to the other teacher, that did not have this one girl playing Christmas music. Knowing the student, I am pretty sure it is because she could not trust that the student would learn anything Christmas in time for the recital.

I just completed writing Christmas cards for my home studio students that will be playing in recital tomorrow, and I am just so happy to be sharing the little pins and candies that I have for them.

the upcoming School recital, well, hopefully the parents will hear the efforts that their child has put into practicing.

per the original question, do you ever talk to the parents about the child's progress? I did have one parent tell me after finally observing a lesson, that her child has a neurological processing disorder.
she was actually going at a pretty decent pace, and actually practices, so I had not noticed much difference. I am careful now to have her repeat in her own words what she understands. And she is doing fine.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/07/18 10:40 PM

Originally Posted by missbelle
per the original question, do you ever talk to the parents about the child's progress? I did have one parent tell me after finally observing a lesson, that her child has a neurological processing disorder.

I have in the past. There was a boy who MUST have some learning disability. There's NO WAY a kid can be this slow at picking things up. Even his older brother, who isn't exactly brilliant, can understand plain English and follow directions. Mom said the boy gets all A's at school. My friend teaches his classmate who is like 1,000 times better at piano, and apparently they are in the same honors program at school.

There are kids who may excel at other academic subjects. Some just hate piano. But I'm talking about kids who actually like piano and want lessons, but just CAN'T understand or remember anything. It might be time to get some of these kids tested for learning disabilities. I do have some limited experience working with special-ed kids at school, and I applied some common strategies with the kids who had been diagnosed. But at some point I will run out of ideas from my teaching toolbox.
Posted By: missbelle

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/08/18 02:49 PM

I thought about this forum a bit last night. With an upcoming recital, I realized that it was about three years ago when parents started complaining about the student having to memorize their music. I decided it was easier to go along and get along, and requested that the music be memorized, but not required. And now I have students that are still almost sight reading their music, because without the pressure of memorization and the internal workings and understanding when you work on memorizing a piece, they are not progressing as well. It has been about 3 years now, that parents are actually asking for less work in a way.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/08/18 04:35 PM

Going back to the original question, which is that in recent years you are finding that as a whole your students are progressing more slowly than the student body used to:

It might be local or national, or within the state. Locally a phenomenon might be going on: a shifting socio-economic or other type of group; some competitor siphoning off better students; something happening in local schools such as too much homework, too many extracurricular activities, or a kind of teaching that makes students fuzzy-brained. I don't know the American school system too well, so I don't know if educational trends would be national, state-wise, or a combination of both.

The problem with forums is that people tend to read subject lines without reading the opening post. You are not really asking about "Slow Progress Among Beginners", but "Slower Progress Among Beginners in Recent Years".
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/09/18 04:35 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
It might be local or national, or within the state.

I can observe only from the perspective of a competition judge and exam evaluator.

Overall, participation in local piano competitions is way, way down. The playing level among the highest group remains stellar, but those in the 50th through 95th percentile has seen a precipitous drop in volume. There are no more "good" players. Just the superstars plus the usual bottom feeders. As a result, people stopped participating in real piano competitions, and the pity fests (the ones where 75% of the participants win something) are doing quite well.

It's like losing is a bad thing. Kids are so afraid of losing, they don't participate in anything that poses the slightest challenge.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/09/18 11:45 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

It's like losing is a bad thing. Kids are so afraid of losing, they don't participate in anything that poses the slightest challenge.


When anything less than the 95%ile is considered inadequate, really what's the point in trying?
Posted By: hello my name is

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/10/18 12:42 AM

I am curious to hear from seasoned teachers on this. I don't know if it was on this forum or another, but one teacher commented that in all her years of teaching she has noticed recently kids aren't as strong as they used to be, and clumsier. She hypothesized that today's lifestyle for children where technology is readily available in lieu of hands-on play is causing a weakness in motor skills.
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/10/18 03:14 AM

I've only been teaching about 10 years, so I don't feel I can really judge kids today vs. previous generations. But regarding AZN's last comment, I have heard from other teachers that they perceive that there are fewer "average" students. They are teaching either very driven students who want to get to a high level or students who are just taking piano to check a box and not putting in much effort, whereas before they had more students in the middle.
Personally, I would say that a major enemy of progress at the piano is the great variety and intensity of the extra-curricular activities that students participate in. So many of my students seem to have an activity or two every day of the week, and so many of the sports teams require multiple practices/games per week plus tournaments on the weekends. It's understandable that they are unable to concentrate in lessons or practice well at home. I'm sure it wasn't this way for most kids when I was growing up, and I wonder if it's more difficult to develop independent learning skills if you are in a structured environment so much of the time.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/10/18 07:12 AM

Originally Posted by malkin
When anything less than the 95%ile is considered inadequate, really what's the point in trying?

Grit.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/10/18 05:24 PM

??
(Didn't understand the one-word answer "grit")
Posted By: Plowboy

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 02:29 AM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Really, the phenomenon started maybe 5 years ago. I started to notice that kids are becoming more and more distracted. Can't focus. And very low verbal and spatial intelligence.


iPhone! The iDeath of civilization.
Posted By: Groove On

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 03:10 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
?? (Didn't understand the one-word answer "grit")

I believe AZPiano is referring to the definition of grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character.”

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by malkin
When anything less than the 95%ile is considered inadequate, really what's the point in trying?

Grit.

Posted By: Andamento

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 03:30 AM

Except for about five years during my public-school-teaching years, I've been teaching piano since the early 1980s. Probably the biggest change I've seen among my students over those years has been how much they use technology now compared to then. Screens abound. And if you read books like The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, as I have, you'll find some interesting and disturbing data about the pervasive use of tech and how it's affecting attention and other physiological processes.

What are the neurological implications for youth on the screen drug, whose brains and bodies are still developing? How are those implications playing out in piano teachers' studios across the country and around the world?

It's why I brought up the proliferation of screen use in one of my posts on this thread, and I'm glad others have mentioned tech, as well. It's a giant experiment, this massive use of screens nearly everywhere in kids' lives--at school, at home, in the children's hands while riding in the car to their fourth extracurricular activity that week, and even possibly (gasp!) in their music teachers' studios.

Hands on the screens is different than hands on the piano, or on the ball in the park, or on the pencil doing one's homework. Attention is diverted with eight different tabs open at once, or a half-dozen hot links in an article. Click. Switch. Go somewhere else.

It's hard, even as an adult, to stay focused with all those distractions around. How much are parents (and I'm one, so am asking myself, too) are we robbing our children of opportunities for extended attention--like time to explore nature--that could clear the mind of all the distracting clutter that causes them to flit restlessly from one thing to another?

I believe we piano teachers are going to be seeing more attention problems in our studios in the years to come, as i-Pads and i-Phones are getting used like pacifiers these days.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 03:36 AM

Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by keystring
?? (Didn't understand the one-word answer "grit")

I believe AZPiano is referring to the definition of grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character.”

Yes, like the movie. But in the context of learning and teaching, and in response to the concern expressed, I didn't find it much of an answer. The issue presented, imho, involves more than "grit".
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 03:52 AM

Of course with this new system we can't edit what we wrote. I'm thinking if indeed only a small percentage can succeed, then obviously a large percentage will not, and no amount of grit will change that. Such a thing would have a lot of negative fallout, if that is indeed how things are.
Posted By: hello my name is

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 04:07 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by keystring
?? (Didn't understand the one-word answer "grit")

I believe AZPiano is referring to the definition of grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character.”

Yes, like the movie. But in the context of learning and teaching, and in response to the concern expressed, I didn't find it much of an answer. The issue presented, imho, involves more than "grit".


Perhaps AZN was referring to this?
https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_le..._of_passion_and_perseverance?language=en
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 06:26 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Of course with this new system we can't edit what we wrote. I'm thinking if indeed only a small percentage can succeed, then obviously a large percentage will not, and no amount of grit will change that. Such a thing would have a lot of negative fallout, if that is indeed how things are.

It's not a matter of succeeding or not. Winning a piano competition is not succeeding.

Some kids (and their parents!) think that losing a piano competition means they've FAILED at life.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 10:28 AM

It's not easy to point to any 1 cause.

Today's parents allow kids to play with a tablet and other electronic devices all day as a way to keep them occupied so that the parents wouldn't have to always keep an eye on them. And there are parents who feel getting kids exposed to electronic gadgets would give them a head start in life because a lot of workplaces require computer skills.

Coming from a non-musical family, my parents tend to treat learning an instrument like an academic exercise. Although everybody in the family had music lessons, nobody except myself would get into serious playing. Mom would spend many hours in front of the TV saying that many of the programs are educational.

Once I got invited to a b-day party. There were 3 kids in the family sitting in front of an 88-keyboard. On the stand was a page of sheet music with barely 4 lines. They spent nearly an hour trying to decipher the song and nobody came close to what it was supposed to sound. Assuming that each of them took lessons for at least a year, one would assume they should be sight-reading at a certain level. The father took piano lessons before and passed a few levels but he offered no help. Like many of his peers his parents got him to take lessons which he hated and hadn't touched a piano for many years. The father don't have any issues with the kids in front of the TV or the computer playing video games for hours.

I started with the violin alongside my sister many years ago. Being in a non-musical family, besides paying for the lessons, mom and dad offered no help except criticize. There was never any competition between the 2 of us. My sister was only ahead of me by a few months. We never got to the technical level where we would be helping each other improve. With 1 violin at home we never had to fight for practice time because both of us had a tendency to slack off. Years ago I was hooked to Charlie Brown cartoons on TV. Watching Schroeder on TV didn't motivate us to practice music more.

When I got into piano playing as an adult, I was determined not to repeat the same mistakes I had with learning violin. I never had to track my practice time as long as I have enough interesting pieces to play. Most days I have enough material to keep me going for at least an hour. Very early I'd make recordings. A lot of times I wouldn't end a playing session until I've made an ideal recording. Instead of getting stuck playing the same pieces, I'd find all sorts of challenging pieces I like to listen to and learn to play them without a teacher.

When it comes to making progress you need to motivate people in a positive way to keep playing and move ahead. For me there are 2 things that motivate me to keep going with my music playing day after day. The first is playing with a music group. There is a lot of peer pressure you need to keep up. Everybody is playing at a certain level you don't want to be the person playing all the wrong notes and make the group sound bad in a performance. The other motivator is making sound recordings. A lot of teachers recommended recording yourself as a way to track your progress. I find that once I get into recording a piece, I would listen to the playback and repeat the same piece many times until I get the ideal sound.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 12:44 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by keystring
Of course with this new system we can't edit what we wrote. I'm thinking if indeed only a small percentage can succeed, then obviously a large percentage will not, and no amount of grit will change that. Such a thing would have a lot of negative fallout, if that is indeed how things are.

It's not a matter of succeeding or not. Winning a piano competition is not succeeding.

Some kids (and their parents!) think that losing a piano competition means they've FAILED at life.

I missed that it had switched from students doing less well recently in their learning, to participation in competitions. Now I see it.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 01:31 PM

Originally Posted by Plowboy
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Really, the phenomenon started maybe 5 years ago. I started to notice that kids are becoming more and more distracted. Can't focus. And very low verbal and spatial intelligence.


iPhone! The iDeath of civilization.


But the two-thumbed-typing speed on a small hand held screen has gone way way up.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 02:54 PM

Originally Posted by hello my name is
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Groove On
Originally Posted by keystring
?? (Didn't understand the one-word answer "grit")

I believe AZPiano is referring to the definition of grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character.”

Yes, like the movie. But in the context of learning and teaching, and in response to the concern expressed, I didn't find it much of an answer. The issue presented, imho, involves more than "grit".


Perhaps AZN was referring to this?
https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_le..._of_passion_and_perseverance?language=en


I'd heard good things about this TED talk but hadn't gotten around to watching it. Sorry, but I thought it was superficial and shallow, at least the first five minutes. In minute 6 she mentions Dweck and the Growth Mindset but doesn't really make the connection.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 05:09 PM

Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Plowboy
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Really, the phenomenon started maybe 5 years ago. I started to notice that kids are becoming more and more distracted. Can't focus. And very low verbal and spatial intelligence.


iPhone! The iDeath of civilization.


But the two-thumbed-typing speed on a small hand held screen has gone way way up.

That probably explains why I play the piano better (and much faster) than I can type with two thumbs. Actually, I can't type with two thumbs at all.

Because I don't own an iPhone - nor any other smartphone of any sort. Just a tiny iPod Touch, whose screen is so small that one thumb would take up half of it, so I don't even bother to try.

When I go on holiday, I escape technology because I'd be in the wilderness. No phone signal, no wifi, just me against (or with) the elements. Everybody has to talk to each other (you know, use the vocal cords) rather than have their eyes glued to a screen and their ears plugged into a wire.

BTW, one side-effect of the iPhone era is that children are developing myopia at an alarming rate. They spend all their time staring at something small less than ten inches away, rather than in the distance (you know, the horizon, to watch out for marauding predators), and their eyes are suffering........
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 07:10 PM

About myopia:

I watched a very interesting documentary on studies being carried out in China, where myopia had increased markedly. They turned this around by making certain that school children in the test schools for the experiment were exposed to sunlight for at least 30 minutes/day. It turned out that it was not close vision, but staying too much in artificial light, was the culprit due to the structure and chemical goings-on in the eye. In the studies they also changed lighting in the classroom itself to give the spectrum of sunlight. There is some kind of chemical interaction that is triggered by certain light waves (colours). Really interesting stuff.

(Now back to your regular channel). wink
Posted By: The Monkeys

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 08:32 PM

I was talking to my younger son's (grade 6) school teacher a couple of weeks ago. He asked me what suggestion I had for school. Looking at scribbles all over the wall, I said, "perhaps to help them to improve their handwritings?"
Without giving it any thought, the teacher instantly responded: " I can't justify that as long as I can read what they write. The majority of our class work are done in typing anyways"
And he is in his 60s.

Well, I guess we are heading to a digital world, and there is no return.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 08:48 PM

Originally Posted by The Monkeys
I was talking to my younger son's (grade 6) school teacher a couple of weeks ago. He asked me what suggestion I had for school. Looking at scribbles all over the wall, I said, "perhaps to help them to improve their handwritings?"
Without giving it any thought, the teacher instantly responded: " I can't justify that as long as I can read what they write. The majority of our class work are done in typing anyways"
And he is in his 60s.

Well, I guess we are heading to a digital world, and there is no return.

Not quite true. Standardized tests are still handwritten. Good luck conveying your ideas if your handwriting is illegible.

Some schools got rid of cursive writing from their curriculum. Not sure what's next on the chopping block. Poetry?
Posted By: The Monkeys

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 09:14 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by The Monkeys
I was talking to my younger son's (grade 6) school teacher a couple of weeks ago. He asked me what suggestion I had for school. Looking at scribbles all over the wall, I said, "perhaps to help them to improve their handwritings?"
Without giving it any thought, the teacher instantly responded: " I can't justify that as long as I can read what they write. The majority of our class work are done in typing anyways"
And he is in his 60s.

Well, I guess we are heading to a digital world, and there is no return.

Not quite true. Standardized tests are still handwritten. Good luck conveying your ideas if your handwriting is illegible.

Some schools got rid of cursive writing from their curriculum. Not sure what's next on the chopping block. Poetry?


I agree with you, also, nowadays, kids can type super fast, but they write super slow. They don't have enough time to write even if they know what to write!

But In BC, the coastal province we live, they just did away *ALL* standardized tests in high school (it was called "provincials" before), replacing them with one set of Numeracy and Literacy test at grade 12. We don't know what it is as no one has seen it. But it would be in a such a low level that university's can't use them as a reference for admission.

We don't have SAT/ACT, nor the Canadian universities recognize them for Canadian students.

Also, with the new BC curriculum, elementary schools are not allowed to give out letter grades. In high school, they are replacing the accelerated honor programs with non-accelerated enrichment programs.
The university encourage students to take AP courses and take AP tests (or take IB programs). But the universities are not allowed to see the students' AP tests results until after the students is admitted. They are only allow to see the AP course grades given by the class room teachers.

So, the teacher might have a point.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 10:38 PM

Trying to address the recent variety of things thrown together.

Cursive writing and poetry are two very different things. I cannot see how poetry or lack thereof would have an effect on students' ability to do well or less well in piano lessons. (which I think was the topic) As a teacher trained in primary education, and having worked in the classroom, there is a role for cursive writing. Namely, for some students it may bring together how the letters of a single word belong together. I had a "slow student" in the classroom when I taught, already 9 and still in gr. 2 because of repeating grades, and the special education specialist told me that cursive writing would help that student in particular, for that reason.

BC (British Columbia) tends to be hailed as the most progressive and enlightened province. The saying used to be "The further west you go, the more enlightened you'll find the education system."

Letter grades? We weren't doing them when I taught in the early 1980's. We had percentage scores, and more importantly, anecdotal report cards where a teacher actually had to write things about the student's progress for each subject. Nowadays I work as a translator. The report cards that have impressed me are the ones from the French "lycees" in Hong Kong. They are also anecdotal, with a lot of guidance by each teacher of each subject, semester by semester.

If we're going to talk about what is going on in school systems, maybe it can be a bit more on point, like if you think it's bad to get rid of cursive writing, or it might be bad to get rid of poetry ---- what, specifically, is lost with that in the student's learning, and how that might affect piano or music studies. It can't just be "We used to do (subject) when I went to school, so our kids should do the same thing, because I did it." wink
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/11/18 11:44 PM

Not really at the beginner levels, but when you deal with advanced piano music, knowledge of poetry can help interpret the meaning of the music--phrasing, structure, cadence, sound device, motives, etc. It's a different level of abstract thinking with which I can challenge students to analyze their music.

Of the four English teachers I had in high school, three taught poetry horribly, and the fourth was barely proficient. I didn't really understand poetry until two different grad students in college taught it properly.
Posted By: Candywoman

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/12/18 12:16 AM

To the Monkeys,
I think handwriting is a very important skill, as is drawing. Hand-eye coordination is very important. So I'd go back to that old teacher and tell him that.

What kids lack in their education today: cursive handwriting, memorizing, grammar, negative consequences for failing to do their homework, ability to persevere.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/12/18 01:53 AM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
...
Not quite true. Standardized tests are still handwritten.


In my district they are all computer based.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/12/18 02:03 AM

Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
...
Not quite true. Standardized tests are still handwritten.

In my district they are all computer based.

In the USA, because of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), can they even require students to take handwritten tests of any kind? I was under the impression that schools had to offer computer versions of every test, standardized or for a class.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/12/18 01:22 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

In the USA, because of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), can they even require students to take handwritten tests of any kind? I was under the impression that schools had to offer computer versions of every test, standardized or for a class.


A teacher can give whatever test in whatever form to a class of students. Students with disability may have an IEP (due to IDEA) or a 504 plan (under ADA) listing accommodations that may include typing written material or using a scribe or voice to text or whatever else for whatever suits the disability. General education students are mostly stuck with whatever the teacher hands out, though.

Here's a pretty sane little list of possibilities: https://www.understood.org/en/learn...assroom-accommodations-and-modifications

But I know you can have fun looking up these terms: accommodations modifications supplemental aids IDEA
Posted By: The Monkeys

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/12/18 10:32 PM

Originally Posted by keystring

BC (British Columbia) tends to be hailed as the most progressive and enlightened province. The saying used to be "The further west you go, the more enlightened you'll find the education system."


We are so progressive, to the point that we are in an uncharted territory. We are using a system that no one in the world has ever used it before, not even Northern Europe.
The educators said they want our kids to be future proof, and then put our kids' future on the line.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/13/18 07:40 AM

Originally Posted by The Monkeys
We are so progressive, to the point that we are in an uncharted territory. We are using a system that no one in the world has ever used it before, not even Northern Europe.
The educators said they want our kids to be future proof, and then put our kids' future on the line.

Well, maybe part of the "uncharted territory" came as a response to the current trend of slower kids? And schools need to make slow kids feel better about themselves?

If the updated RCM repertoire list is any indication, Canadian kids are indeed getting slower and slower.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/13/18 08:27 AM

The updated RCM list isn't an indication of anything in regard to Canadian kids, but may have something to do with marketing. In terms of "uncharted territory" and the rest, I would be very interested, as an educator, in seeing exactly what is being done in BC. I know that when Ontario had its "reforms", the average parent on the street didn't know that many of the "new" things were just recycled things that had always been there but never published, but as a teacher I knew what I was looking at. In my present work I get an inside look at the educational systems of half a dozen countries. Without that,I don't know if I would actually be able to compare what is happening among countries. AT best, I might hear what friends tell me they think is going on.

Quote
And schools need to make slow kids feel better about themselves?

It is supposed to be about teaching. Not making kids feel things about themselves. I know that my experiences are outdated by now, since I taught in the 1980's. But at that time we taught toward the varying levels of the students so that they actually learned. And as a teacher I made it work. The advanced kids had outlets for further learning at their level, and the kids with varying difficulties got the extra help they needed. You can't do that when you're muzzled by a top heavy administration interfering with your teaching.
Posted By: missbelle

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 04:21 AM

a friend of mine is an art teacher. She noticed a couple of years ago that students were having difficulty with a project that she had been doing since her very first years, years and years ago. It is a simple building project. she asked a father who was helping in the classroom how often his child built things. He responded that his child builds all the time and that Dad was quite proud of all his child's building accomplishments. My friend asked oh, does she do Legos, Connex, Tinker Toys, or other blocks or even pieces of wood?
The father proudly responded that all the building was done in Minecraft.
my friend now adds an extra day or two for this art project, because the majority of her students have trouble with the physical balancing of it.

For piano, I have some students that will "play" around a lot, especially if they have a digital keyboard. But, when it comes to practice, not much is done

My analogy to tell is that no one watches the sports team do repetitive drills, lift weights, study play books, etc...but they like the game!
Practice is the repetitive stuff, the work, the exercise.
It is work.

I know some people watch videos of video games bring played, but it doesn't help your game as much as real work would do.

How much work are you willing to encourage your child to do?

Parents pay a good bit for piano lessons. Why they do not encourage practice boggles my mind.

You cannot build on a weak foundation ( to bring my post back to my art teacher friend)🙂
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 09:26 AM

About myopia - I started on the piano at the age of 7 in 1949 and was practising 1 - 2 hours a day. My short-sightedness developed by the age of 9 or 10 and exactly matched the distance between me and the piano pieces I was always reading. Always convinced that was why I became short-sighted and I was the only one in a class of nearly 40 who wore glasses.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 01:54 PM

The last thing I read on myopia said yes, it's increasing, but it's not due to increased close work. It's due to decreased time outside in sunlight.

I'm not sure how definitive this conclusion is. Obviously either could be associated with piano playing.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 04:39 PM

Originally Posted by TimR
The last thing I read on myopia said yes, it's increasing, but it's not due to increased close work. It's due to decreased time outside in sunlight.

Aren't they related?

Indoors, one's eyes are hardly ever focused beyond eight feet, but these days, more like eight inches.

Outdoors, the eyes are focused close enough at infinity most of the time, watching the birds & the bees......
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 04:53 PM

Originally Posted by TimR
The last thing I read on myopia said yes, it's increasing, but it's not due to increased close work. It's due to decreased time outside in sunlight.

I'm not sure how definitive this conclusion is. Obviously either could be associated with piano playing.

That was what I discovered while watching a documentary - I think the experiments that were carried out under this hypothesis were happening in some Chinese schools, but I may have the country wrong.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 04:57 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by TimR
The last thing I read on myopia said yes, it's increasing, but it's not due to increased close work. It's due to decreased time outside in sunlight.

Aren't they related?

Indoors, one's eyes are hardly ever focused beyond eight feet, but these days, more like eight inches.

Outdoors, the eyes are focused close enough at infinity most of the time, watching the birds & the bees......


That has been the hypothesis for a long time, because that is the conclusion one would naturally draw. But in the documentary I saw, they made sure that kids spent half an hour daily, at least, in natural sunlight, and they also changed the lighting in the classroom. Statistics showed a significant change. They concluded that myopia could not be reversed once it happened, but it could be prevented to some degree.

The science part of it had to do with the chemistry that happens between the eyes and sunlight. It was almost like eyes were plants that have chemical changes going on where sunlight is a factor. When you grow plants indoor you will sometimes buy "grow lights" that have particular colours of the spectrum. It appeared that certain colours of the spectrum also affected what goes on with eyes. (It was a fascinating document).
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 07:10 PM

Well, despite a lot of piano practice during the time when my myopia developed, I was never short of outside light. In those days there was no TV so we played outside. I go along more with the theory of having to gaze at 'infinity'.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 07:17 PM

....and don't forget, myopia is associated with big brains: myopia = big eyeballs => big brains => ? wink

Go to CERN or anywhere where very clever people with high IQ congregate, and if you see anyone with no glasses on, ask them what brand of contact lenses they use, or what kind of laser surgery they had...... grin
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 07:50 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Indoors, one's eyes are hardly ever focused beyond eight feet, but these days, more like eight inches.

Outdoors, the eyes are focused close enough at infinity most of the time, watching the birds & the bees......


There are actually two things going on: Focusing the lenses, and converging the two eyes. The human eye has lots of depth of field, it's the convergence that's the hard part.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/17/18 08:06 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by bennevis
Indoors, one's eyes are hardly ever focused beyond eight feet, but these days, more like eight inches.

Outdoors, the eyes are focused close enough at infinity most of the time, watching the birds & the bees......


There are actually two things going on: Focusing the lenses, and converging the two eyes. The human eye has lots of depth of field, it's the convergence that's the hard part.



Depth of field is dependent on the size of the pupils (like a camera's aperture) - in bright sunlight, everything looks sharp. Not so in dull winter light, like.....now. Or indoor light.

I never thought converging the eyes is ever a problem: look at one index finger and gradually bring it closer to your nose - even when you can't focus, your eyes will still manage to avoid seeing double until your finger is just a few inches away.
Posted By: Andamento

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/18/18 01:22 AM

Myopia: My husband and I each got glasses (for near-sightedness) in fifth grade. So I was expecting that our children would have similar fates.

And boy was I wrong. Only one of our children--and we have a quite-a-bit-larger-than-average-size family--has had to get glasses so far, and that in her twenties.

My husband and I and our kids did/do spend plenty of time outside as children. Why did my husband and I need glasses so much earlier, while our kids didn't? The only thing I can think of is that lots of time spent in the lighting conditions in classrooms may have had an effect. (Our children were/are homeschooled for most or all of their K-12 education, whereas hubby and I were not at all.)

An optometrist told me once to periodically spend time looking out a window (or going outside) and focusing on a distant object. I wonder if many are getting advice like that anymore.
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/18/18 09:22 AM

Originally Posted by bennevis


I never thought converging the eyes is ever a problem: look at one index finger and gradually bring it closer to your nose - even when you can't focus, your eyes will still manage to avoid seeing double until your finger is just a few inches away.


Before being perscribed glasses the hospital opticians had me exercising the eye muscles by focusing on the tip of my nose. It seemed to work for a while. But no thoughts about distance vision exercises.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/18/18 06:04 PM

Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by bennevis


I never thought converging the eyes is ever a problem: look at one index finger and gradually bring it closer to your nose - even when you can't focus, your eyes will still manage to avoid seeing double until your finger is just a few inches away.


Before being perscribed glasses the hospital opticians had me exercising the eye muscles by focusing on the tip of my nose. It seemed to work for a while. But no thoughts about distance vision exercises.

Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by bennevis
Indoors, one's eyes are hardly ever focused beyond eight feet, but these days, more like eight inches.

Outdoors, the eyes are focused close enough at infinity most of the time, watching the birds & the bees......


There are actually two things going on: Focusing the lenses, and converging the two eyes. The human eye has lots of depth of field, it's the convergence that's the hard part.



Depth of field is dependent on the size of the pupils (like a camera's aperture) - in bright sunlight, everything looks sharp. Not so in dull winter light, like.....now. Or indoor light.

I never thought converging the eyes is ever a problem: look at one index finger and gradually bring it closer to your nose - even when you can't focus, your eyes will still manage to avoid seeing double until your finger is just a few inches away.


The human eye has a fairly narrow range of pupil size - roughly f/2 through f/8 in camera lens terms. Focal length (roughly 25mm) is also quite short for the size of the retina, so we have good depth of field. even at f/2.

Try looking at that index finger, then at a distant object -- say 5 meters or more away. Do that with one eye open at a time and you'll see the focus rack if you still have young enough lenses -- in any case, you'll see the DOF. Then do it with both eyes open. The clear result is that parallax is far more powerful than DOF in limiting the range of distances you can pay attention to at one time.

Going back and forth between arm's length and a few meters works those eye positioning muscles if both eyes are open, but only the lens focusing if one eye at a time. That should make it clear that convergence is the hard part. That's a big part of why some people throw up at 3D movies. (3D is worse for people with small interocular distance, which is why children get sick at them more than their parents.)
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/18/18 06:43 PM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung

The human eye has a fairly narrow range of pupil size - roughly f/2 through f/8 in camera lens terms. Focal length (roughly 25mm) is also quite short for the size of the retina, so we have good depth of field. even at f/2.

Try looking at that index finger, then at a distant object -- say 5 meters or more away. Do that with one eye open at a time and you'll see the focus rack if you still have young enough lenses -- in any case, you'll see the DOF. Then do it with both eyes open. The clear result is that parallax is far more powerful than DOF in limiting the range of distances you can pay attention to at one time.

I think we're talking about different things. Paying attention to something is quite different from actually seeing something clearly. The brain filters out extraneous stuff.

In bright sunshine, I can read a car number plate (with one or both eyes open) at 50 feet without my glasses/contact lenses.

In dim evening light, it's just a blurry mess. If I partially close my eyelids (simulating a smaller pupil), I might just be able to discern through the gloom that it's actually black and white rather than a grey mess.

BTW, there is a huge difference in DOF between f/2 and f/8.

Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/19/18 01:31 AM


Yes, the brain is very good at ignoring all the double images at distances other than where the eyes converge. That region of convergence is much smaller than the DOF for our eyes, which is probably why we accept very narrow DOF in movies.
Posted By: Bluoh

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/24/18 09:01 PM

To answer the original question, I feel that my students haven't declined in learning, but perhaps today's media is very distracting, and so they're less inclined to sit and practice for longer stretches of time, or even practice everyday at all!
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/24/18 09:30 PM

Originally Posted by Bluoh
To answer the original question, I feel that my students haven't declined in learning, but perhaps today's media is very distracting, and so they're less inclined to sit and practice for longer stretches of time, or even practice everyday at all!

And your students are not distracted by the 83 extracurricular activities that their parents want them to do?

I have some students who are extremely intelligent; however, their brainspace is scattered 47 different directions, and it's amazing how they can cope with such a multitasking lifestyle. I know I would be dumber than a stool had I grown up with so many distractions.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/24/18 11:30 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
....and don't forget, myopia is associated with big brains: myopia = big eyeballs => big brains => ? wink

Go to CERN or anywhere where very clever people with high IQ congregate, and if you see anyone with no glasses on, ask them what brand of contact lenses they use, or what kind of laser surgery they had...... grin



Good grief. Go to CERN and ask people if they rely on empirical research or if they ask people on the internet to draw conclusions from personal experience.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/25/18 12:17 AM

Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by bennevis
....and don't forget, myopia is associated with big brains: myopia = big eyeballs => big brains => ? wink

Go to CERN or anywhere where very clever people with high IQ congregate, and if you see anyone with no glasses on, ask them what brand of contact lenses they use, or what kind of laser surgery they had...... grin



Good grief. Go to CERN and ask people if they rely on empirical research or if they ask people on the internet to draw conclusions from personal experience.

Good grief!

A bit late to the party, aren't you? crazy

And why don't you read up on the subject first before dissing everything I wrote?

BTW, I have been to CERN.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/25/18 06:33 AM

I looked up "CERN" and found a definition https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN
European organization for nuclear research. What does that have to do with the possibility (or not) of students having become slower learners in recent years? Or eyesight?
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/25/18 09:16 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
I looked up "CERN" and found a definition https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN
European organization for nuclear research. What does that have to do with the possibility (or not) of students having become slower learners in recent years? Or eyesight?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Der9xbuVJs
Posted By: keystring

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/25/18 04:44 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
And your students are not distracted by the 83 extracurricular activities that their parents want them to do?

Might this, in fact, be an answer to what you have been observing, or maybe in part? smile
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/25/18 08:59 PM

Quote
I have a teen girl who has been stuck on the easiest piece I teach with just three easy chords in the LH for probably 6 months. Every week she sucks the air out of my life. I count the seconds until she leaves.


Ah! but Gary you such the air out of you! Your in control of your emotions. I offered to assist an employee working on a master's in nursing because she failed research once, if she failed a second time she would be dismissed from the government scholarship program (I coordinate this program) and in breach of her contract and pay funding back. It is not in my job description that I have to mentor people. This was above and beyond. I really tried hard to help her, finally she said I was being too hard on her and did not need me to mentor her anymore. When she stopped coming to see me she was passing. She ended up failing and owed back 28,000. I felt like saying was I 28,000 to hard on you?

Then I held a basic life support class, one employee in front of everyone yelled at me and said I am here, I was made to come. Was angry at me. I said calmly your not a hostage you can leave at any time. He said I need it for my job, I replied maintaining employment is a personal choice. He sat down did not hear another word.

My point, I could feel bad, I don't! people make their own decisions. You only can do what the student and the parent support. My mom made me practice. I did not want to take piano lessons. Today, I am glad I had those teachers who put up with me. If only I could remember them and say, I appreciate what you did.

Feel good about doing your best and helping people develop in the arts. Your not going to help everyone succeed and everyone will not appreciate what you do. That is ok!
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/26/18 08:09 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
And your students are not distracted by the 83 extracurricular activities that their parents want them to do?

Might this, in fact, be an answer to what you have been observing, or maybe in part? smile

Merely seeking confirmation.

One of my colleagues told me yesterday that she's seeing the same thing, but she thinks it's a shift in parenting objectives that's the main problem. She has more tolerance for high-maintenance parents than I do. She and I teach in the same area that has LOTS of students who do piano as just another thing to check off on their competitive college resume. There are actually high school students who put together these "disaster relief" concerts and raise $$$. I'm not sure how much of that is honest volunteer/charity work and how much of that is to get into Harvard and Yale.

My cynicism meter is rather high at the moment, since one of my worst students EVER got accepted into a rather prestigious university, while the boatloads of great students I've had in the past had no such luck. I can't tell you how little piano achievements factor into college admissions.
Posted By: Rob Mullins

Re: Slow Progress Among Beginners - 12/30/18 08:55 AM

Sometimes, it can take a lot of time.
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