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#1233633 - 07/19/09 12:06 AM Worried my daughter is fading out of piano
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Hi: My daughter Nisha started playing the piano at 3.5 with her mother and I, just for fun. Whenever we played, she wanted to play, and learned easily things like several scales correctly fingered, some simple child songs, and even Minuet in G (C. Petzold) correctly fingered on the right hand.

We offered her to go to "piano school" which we thought would involve group lessons. They offered the Little Mozarts program, which seemed like a good idea. By the time the summer session was ready to start, my description to the school head of Nisha's capabilities made him persuade me that she's too far ahead of the Little Mozarts, and it might bore her. A subsequent "audition" with a prospective teacher there confirmed their view.

Nisha seemed to love the idea of going to piano school after several pre-signup visits, and even wanted to live there. Around the time just prior to signing up (about a month or two after turning 4), she also played the piano on her own volition many times per day, repeating Minuet and other songs at blinding speed, and showing great determination to get it right. She also acquired basic theory skills. She could identify all keyboard notes, read a few notes on the staff, knew all the 1/4, 1/2, etc., and could take dictation of a piece by my calling out "D-5, G-1, A-2, ...etc." But she hadn't yet tried counting and I think she recoiled a bit when I tried to persuade her to try this.

Oh actually I recall I made for her rhythm exercises consisting of a page of 1/4, 1/2, and whole note patterns (with the same note, like C on the staff, including one measure containing an 1/8 note challenge) in 3/4 and a page in 4/4 time. With mom's guidance, she mastered counting and playing these out in the last week before starting school, still showing an eagerness to learn and get it right.

Literally the week after starting school, she stopped playing spontaneously. She didn't like the rigorous sight reading and note counting, but practiced it successfully if mom sat with her to keep her focussed. Worst of all, she's stopped maintaining the more complicated song like Minuet, or trying to master the left hand part which she had begun to learn a few measures of simply by watching mom, and then playing it herself later.

She gets along well with the teacher and sometimes has a great time in class, but generally doesn't focus well. This week the teacher had quite a problem even getting her to take her seat. Oh, she's not in a group lesson because they just don't have enough students.

We have not pressured her in any way except stating that we expect her to cooperate with the teacher. We told her she'd get a significant reward after completing the summer session (which she just earned a bit early due to a logistical factor) and she was rewarded with some trips to eat junk food and other special treatments that she wanted for completing the first few lessons.

I had a talk with the teacher last week. She agreed that maybe shifting toward a bit more rote learning might be wise, since she demonstrably can learn that way with great easy, even fairly complicated stuff like Minuet, and that might give her the satisfaction of playing something that really sounds like music.

But this week's lesson was greatly disappointing and worrisome, leading me to wonder if parenting technique needs to be made more strict, or not. We use a "positive parenting" approach that avoids any coercion, but emphasizes earning privileges in return for meeting clearly stated expectations. I have hesitated to set expectations on her music performance and rather only set them for her behavior since I didn't want to risk damaging her enjoyment and intrinsic motivation. Yet she's off track anyway even after significantly easing pressure to practice her book assignments, so perhaps setting clear expectations for performance is actually the solution. Not sure.

Another tidbit, she tends to get into a groove and coincident with starting classes she also really started to "get it" with reading. So now she's totally obsessed with reading books all day long. Thus, it is possible that she has simply switched the main focus of her passion, and there really is no fault of the teacher or us in her drifting from the piano. It is very difficult to determine what's going on of course. But there are also indications that she is just recoiling from challenges with the piano (she complains if anything is "hard", like playing both hands together).

If anyone wants to share any insights of perspectives on the information I've offered, please do so. It will be read with interest.

Good day!
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#1233647 - 07/19/09 12:47 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Mr.CRC]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Give her some time. She's still four, right? Most kids don't start piano until later, anyway.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1233739 - 07/19/09 09:35 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: AZNpiano]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
3 1/2 is really young to be at the piano, formally. I would suggest that you let her do the deciding right now. You didn't say how long her lessons are, but I would recommend no more than 30 minutes for someone that age.

It is very easy to burn out someone that young and that would just ruin it for later. Let her decide if she wants to play, and with very little structure. I don't require the littlest ones to practice any set amount of time. I ask them if they did and they show me what they did. Their fingers are so small and so weak at that age, I have them do fun finger exercises more.

I'm sure other teachers do it differently, but that's what works for us. As they get older we get more serious. I have discussed this with the parents and they know that I am essentially teaching them how not to get bad habits because of just fiddling around at home. Also, we are slowly building a solid foundation for later. It will show later.

We may do some non-playing things, like clapping our hands (rhythms), playing hide and seek (locating notes on keyboard) etc. I most definitely would not spend the entire lesson playing on the piano with a 3 1/2 year old. Unless it's a 20 minute lesson.

The only theory I have them do, is very basic and it's fun stuff like matching and coloring.

IMO, the most important thing you can do at home right not, is do not push her. She is very, very young. Even another year and a half can make a huge difference in her abilities.

Playing with hands together is challenging for a lot of kids. Let her play separately for awhile, encourage her make stuff up for the other hand so she is using and strengthening both hands and getting an idea of what sounds nice together.

It's good that she is using the proper fingerings already tho!
It sounds like she is off to a good start, with a parent that wants the best for her smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1233750 - 07/19/09 10:18 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1264
Loc: California
When you say 'Little Mozarts' program, are you referring to the name of the music school or perhaps the 'Music For Little Mozarts' curriculum by Alfred?

My suggestion would be to have her stop with the private lessons for a time and enroll her in a group music program where she's with other children, there's a variety of activities specifically for her age group, and where it's FUN. She is, after all, just barely out of the toddler stage. While she may be able to play repertoire like 'Minuet in G', there are so many other musical things that she could be doing that would benefit her (singing, playing with rhythm instruments, simple ear training games, large motor activities with balls, hoops, & streamers).

Check out the following programs:

www.harmonyroadmusic.com
www.yamaha.com
www.musictogether.com
www.musikgarten.org
www.myc.com
www.kindermusik.com


Good luck!
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1233753 - 07/19/09 10:34 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
3 1/2 is really young to be at the piano, formally. I would suggest that you let her do the deciding right now. You didn't say how long her lessons are, but I would recommend no more than 30 minutes for someone that age.


She's 4.25 now. Lessons are 30 minutes, and the teacher usually has her play her practiced pieces for 5-10 minutes, then they do some games and introduce something new. This week Nisha was drawn to the flash cards. Might fit with the reading theme she's into now.

Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

It is very easy to burn out someone that young and that would just ruin it for later. Let her decide if she wants to play, and with very little structure. I don't require the littlest ones to practice any set amount of time. I ask them if they did and they show me what they did. Their fingers are so small and so weak at that age, I have them do fun finger exercises more.


Yeah, we have been moving in this direction--taking as much perceived pressure off as possible. Actually, this week's lesson would have been Ok if she just would have cooperated with the teacher more. The specifics of what/how she learns is less important as long as she has fun while learning a little bit or getting exposed to more angles of music.

Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

I'm sure other teachers do it differently, but that's what works for us. As they get older we get more serious. I have discussed this with the parents and they know that I am essentially teaching them how not to get bad habits because of just fiddling around at home. Also, we are slowly building a solid foundation for later. It will show later.


This gets at the core of why we tried the lessons at all. My wife and I can teach her at this level fairly adequately in terms of theory and just getting a little music going. But we are fairly clueless at technique, because we are self-learners. So we kept wondering, "are we going to teach her wrong, and screw her up if she wants to learn seriously in the future?" That coupled with Nisha's apparent strong desire to go to school gave the green light. But the sudden increase in structure and formality might be too much for her. Or she might just be testing us for cues about whether we are really serious about expecting her to do this.

Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

We may do some non-playing things, like clapping our hands (rhythms), playing hide and seek (locating notes on keyboard) etc. I most definitely would not spend the entire lesson playing on the piano with a 3 1/2 year old. Unless it's a 20 minute lesson.
The only theory I have them do, is very basic and it's fun stuff like matching and coloring.


The teacher is certainly working in that direction, trying many different things. She plays a game with Nisha where she plays a note, and has Nisha match her by playing the note. The teacher has absolute pitch and keeps telling me that Nisha seems similarly inclined. I have noticed myself that she could always immediately spot a wrong note if I played a piece with an error.

Nisha did continue to periodically sit and improvise at the piano since starting lessons. She likes when I "hack" songs by modifying them. Sometimes she tries my little tweaks. So the teacher is trying to play on that theme as well.

Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

IMO, the most important thing you can do at home right not, is do not push her. She is very, very young. Even another year and a half can make a huge difference in her abilities.

Playing with hands together is challenging for a lot of kids. Let her play separately for awhile, encourage her make stuff up for the other hand so she is using and strengthening both hands and getting an idea of what sounds nice together.

It's good that she is using the proper fingerings already tho!
It sounds like she is off to a good start, with a parent that wants the best for her smile


I think the two hands thing might just be the most overwhelming part, with strict beat counting the next unappealing thing. So perhaps it's not harmful to simply let that go for now.

Thanks for the input.
_________________________
_ _____ _
Good day!

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#1233756 - 07/19/09 10:39 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Mr.CRC]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: Mr.CRC
Another tidbit, she tends to get into a groove and coincident with starting classes she also really started to "get it" with reading. So now she's totally obsessed with reading books all day long. Thus, it is possible that she has simply switched the main focus of her passion, and there really is no fault of the teacher or us in her drifting from the piano.


I'm not a teacher, but as a lifelong learner of various subjects, I want to chime in that there are indeed some of us who work best by completely immersing in one subject at a time. During this time of intense focus I will learn the subject in question much faster than a "regular student" would, but eventually my attention will shift and I will focus on something else instead.

Historically I've done best in learning situations in which I'm allowed to move ahead at my own speed during the voracious learning phases, and then helped to maintain my knowledge when my primary focus has shifted elsewhere.

I've had problems when teachers take it personally when my focus on their particular area of expertise wanes for a while. If I get too much of the "I'm disappointed in you..." vibe I will tend to be "guilt-ed" away from their specialty in a longterm way, whereas if I'm allowed to maintain my natural rhythm, I will re-focus again after a few months' break.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#1233767 - 07/19/09 11:11 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
When you say 'Little Mozarts' program, are you referring to the name of the music school or perhaps the 'Music For Little Mozarts' curriculum by Alfred?
My suggestion would be to have her stop with the private lessons for a time and enroll her in a group music program where she's with other children, there's a variety of activities specifically for her age group, and where it's FUN. She is, after all, just barely out of the toddler stage. While she may be able to play repertoire like 'Minuet in G', there are so many other musical things that she could be doing that would benefit her (singing, playing with rhythm instruments, simple ear training games, large motor activities with balls, hoops, & streamers).
Check out the following programs:
www.harmonyroadmusic.com
www.yamaha.com
www.musictogether.com
www.musikgarten.org
www.myc.com
www.kindermusik.com
Good luck!


The program was the 'Music For Little Mozarts' curriculum by Alfred.

Thanks for the links.
_________________________
_ _____ _
Good day!

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#1233770 - 07/19/09 11:37 AM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: tangleweeds]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

I'm not a teacher, but as a lifelong learner of various subjects, I want to chime in that there are indeed some of us who work best by completely immersing in one subject at a time. During this time of intense focus I will learn the subject in question much faster than a "regular student" would, but eventually my attention will shift and I will focus on something else instead.

Historically I've done best in learning situations in which I'm allowed to move ahead at my own speed during the voracious learning phases, and then helped to maintain my knowledge when my primary focus has shifted elsewhere.


I'm exactly the same way. Certainly, we are taking this factor into account in trying to figure out what's going on and what to do next.

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

I've had problems when teachers take it personally when my focus on their particular area of expertise wanes for a while. If I get too much of the "I'm disappointed in you..." vibe I will tend to be "guilt-ed" away from their specialty in a longterm way, whereas if I'm allowed to maintain my natural rhythm, I will re-focus again after a few months' break.


Yeah, these are subleties that require careful consideration. I tend to regard guilt-trips as coercion, to which I am opposed. Yet parents can and should set expectations. For instance, learning basic math skills is an expectation of both society and in our family. Setting that expectation affects her relationship with math. She might do what is expected but not love math very much. If we don't set the expectation, she might find later in life that she really loves math, yet is 10 years behind her peers and any hopes of becoming a mathematician are in vain. Likewise, if we unskillfully motivate her to meet the expectation, she might develop an aversion to math that wouldn't have otherwise been the case.

In my understanding (anyone can correct me if I'm wrong) piano is very much a case where you need to start young if there is to be any hope of become a serious pianist. Yet one can start at a later age and become a reasonably good player. So, if one misses the opportunity at the earliest age, there is simply no way to make up that lost ground. If one develops the desire to become a pianist later, one will have to settle for just being a decent piano player. So some opportunities will be lost.

I took up figure skating as an adult, so I understand this well. You simply can't ever become an elite figure skater unless you start earlier than some cut-off age. There are simply no elite skaters who started after about 9-10.

So while you can't and shouldn't expect a child to become an elite pianist or skater, you can keep those doors open by exposing them to these opportunities at a young age. How much to expect them to keep at it though critically balances against the risk of turning them off and thus closing the door as well.

I can certainly say that I deeply regret that my parents weren't more skillful in figuring out a way to motivate me to learn the piano or any other lifelong disciplines.

Negotiating through these considerations are some of the most challenging and significant aspects of raising children.

On another note, we are deeply grateful that we have the means to offer our child at least some basic opportunities.
_________________________
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Good day!

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#1233793 - 07/19/09 01:03 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Mr.CRC]
C.Y. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 391
Originally Posted By: Mr.CRC

In my understanding (anyone can correct me if I'm wrong) piano is very much a case where you need to start young if there is to be any hope of become a serious pianist. Yet one can start at a later age and become a reasonably good player. So, if one misses the opportunity at the earliest age, there is simply no way to make up that lost ground. If one develops the desire to become a pianist later, one will have to settle for just being a decent piano player. So some opportunities will be lost.


I am pretty sure I saw a survey before that most pianists (winners of the international competitions) start piano at the age of 5 or 6 years old. My son started last year at age of 6 and I don't see much differences with those kids started at 4 or 5 years old. And do you really want your child to become a concert pianist? I know I don't, I'd rather encourge him to be a doctor or lawyer, and definitely not an engineer. smile

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#1233813 - 07/19/09 02:02 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: C.Y.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
There are lots of teachers that won't even take kids until they are able to read.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1233819 - 07/19/09 02:18 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
She's too young. At this age she needs to be taught at home.
You've essentially thrown her to the wolves by turning
her over to a hardened professional who has
no time or inclination to coddle a young child.

Nevertheless, that being said, it might not be entirely out
of the question to put her with a teacher at this
point, but the teacher would have to be very
carefully selected, as opposed to the way you picked the
current one right out of the phone book, so to speak.
Such a teacher would need to have a special emotional
bond with the child, but that in itself could create
severe problems, because parents can come to deeply resent
a situation where an outsider bonds with their child
in a special way.

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#1233834 - 07/19/09 02:49 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: C.Y.]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: C.Y.

I am pretty sure I saw a survey before that most pianists (winners of the international competitions) start piano at the age of 5 or 6 years old. My son started last year at age of 6 and I don't see much differences with those kids started at 4 or 5 years old. And do you really want your child to become a concert pianist? I know I don't, I'd rather encourge him to be a doctor or lawyer, and definitely not an engineer. smile


I agree that it is not necessary to start piano at this age to become a concert pianist. That is also not our objective. Though, if my daughter ever wants to become a concert pianist, one point is that she would need to have started as a child. Our main objective is that she may become competent at piano, and music performance in general, at both a personally satisfying level and also at a level sufficient enough to give her a solid grounding to enable accelerated progress if she decides at some point to pursue it professionally. Our ancillary objective is to extract, if possible, any potentially deeper developmental benefits.

Prior to signing her up, two conditions were satisfied. She expressed intense interest in doing it. Second, I believed that there was a potentially valuable developmental benefit to be obtained. This was twofold. First, she might avoid learning bad habits from my wife and I. Additionally, I came across indications that learning piano at the preschool level may have benefits to brain development, the window of opportunity for which closes at around 5 years old. Note that this latter possibility is not something necessarily relevant to piano *performance*, but rather at a deeper level of fundamental brain development and well rounded intelligence.

While I respect your right to regard the lawyer profession highly, I wouldn't recommend my child to do that (though I would certainly not stand in her way). The medical profession is reasonably favorable to me. I would certainly encourage her to be an engineer or scientist though! The reason is that the latter category of professions actually produce real physical products, which is a skill base that has become sorely deficient in the USA in particular. If there is any hope that we can once again grow our prosperity, we must increase our production of real physical goods.
_________________________
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Good day!

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#1233836 - 07/19/09 02:55 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Mr.CRC]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Mr.CRC
In my understanding (anyone can correct me if I'm wrong) piano is very much a case where you need to start young if there is to be any hope of become a serious pianist. Yet one can start at a later age and become a reasonably good player. So, if one misses the opportunity at the earliest age, there is simply no way to make up that lost ground. If one develops the desire to become a pianist later, one will have to settle for just being a decent piano player. So some opportunities will be lost.

I took up figure skating as an adult, so I understand this well. You simply can't ever become an elite figure skater unless you start earlier than some cut-off age. There are simply no elite skaters who started after about 9-10.


What I'm getting from this is that you believe in order to excel at something you need to start young, right?
So will your child be one of those children that is in absolutely everything so as not to miss out on anything?
Then she will excel at nothing.

Forgive me if I'm rude I don't mean to be, but I see this happen way too often where parents throw their kids into everything thinking that they "have to start early!!" and they just end up burning out of everything.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1233888 - 07/19/09 04:24 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
And if all else fails, there's a trick you
can use. You apparently have an acoustic piano,
but an acoustic can be heard a block away. Imagine
a child, with newly-formed senses, trying to
play something that loud while sitting in front
of it. This is, in fact, is why the dropout rate is
so high in piano; it's just too darned loud.
People with keen hearing--your daughter may
be one of these, based on your description of her
picking up on wrong notes in your playing--
have a tremendous disadvantage at the piano, rather
than advantage, because the cacophony created by
the multiple vibrating strings grates on their
senses and quickly causes fatigue.

This is in fact why silent keyboards were introduced
in the late 1890's--a silent keyboard is similar to
a digital piano with the power turned off. They
allowed pianists to play anytime and anywhere without
disturbing people, and more importantly they allowed
a pianist to saves his ears and nerves, resulting in
more practice time and better technique development.
Claudio Arrau used one all his life.

So the trick is to get a weighted-key digital piano.
I have very keen hearing and can hear a car's tires
on the pavement a mile away at night, but instead of
being an advantage, this has always been a tremendous
disadvantage with the piano, because the noise quickly
produces fatigue. With a digital I can turn the volume
down and play longer and more effectively. Sometimes
I forget and turn the volume up too much, and then I
wonder why I don't want to play the next day.

You can get good, weighted-key digitals for less than
$1000. Two that come to mind are the Casio PX 800
and the M-Audio DCP 200, both $900 online. Either
would be more than adequate for any kind of playing.
I use an economy $600 digital, and I can play anything
on it, including advanced works like the Chopin op.
14 Concert Rondo.

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#1233891 - 07/19/09 04:35 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Mr.CRC]
C.Y. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 391
Originally Posted By: Mr.CRC

Additionally, I came across indications that learning piano at the preschool level may have benefits to brain development, the window of opportunity for which closes at around 5 years old. Note that this latter possibility is not something necessarily relevant to piano *performance*, but rather at a deeper level of fundamental brain development and well rounded intelligence.

Is there a scientific research that supports this?

If you think your 4 years old is not ready for lessons, just wait a year or so and try again. Like I said, my son started at 6 1/2 years old. And in less than a year, he already caught up other kids that started at age 4 or 5. Unless your child is a prodigy and very mature, I just don't think you need to start lessons at age of 4.

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#1233906 - 07/19/09 05:08 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: C.Y.]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Not true that you need to start young. I have a former student who didn't start until 8th grade and he now has a masters degree from Manhattan SoM and is playing for the LA Opera and at Wolf Trap.

Most of my students start at 7 or 8 and become fine pianists. Just make sure that when she is really ready (and she seems not to be), you find the best teacher possible.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1233928 - 07/19/09 06:12 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Minniemay]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
We are talking about a nursery-school age child here, right? Not even old enough for kindergarten yet. Not a miniature adult. All in good time! I believe you can count on another ten years or so of childhood. Yes, there's that window for taking in musical training when the mind is young and plastic. The brain doesn't even stop growing physically until the age of six, and is still developing well past the teenage years.

It seemed to me you were on a pretty solid footing by playing yourself, letting her participate if she wanted. Certainly she's not too young to hear great music in the home via CD and, when she's old enough to sit through them, some live music events. I'm ashamed to say, I can remember (and still sing) TV jingles and radio commercials from when I was that age.

Still. I think it's just a little young to be choosing her career. I can guarantee you one thing only: she'll tell you, and she'll surprise you. Since you asked for advice, mine would be: dial it back a little bit. Enjoy your little girl while she's still a little girl. It's a time that will never come again for her, however accomplished she may be in the end. Watching how you, her parents, live your lives is the really big thing a child that young drinks in.
_________________________
Clef


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#1233952 - 07/19/09 07:16 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Gyro]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
She's too young. At this age she needs to be taught at home.
You've essentially thrown her to the wolves by turning
her over to a hardened professional who has
no time or inclination to coddle a young child.

Nevertheless, that being said, it might not be entirely out
of the question to put her with a teacher at this
point, but the teacher would have to be very
carefully selected, as opposed to the way you picked the
current one right out of the phone book, so to speak.
Such a teacher would need to have a special emotional
bond with the child, but that in itself could create
severe problems, because parents can come to deeply resent
a situation where an outsider bonds with their child
in a special way.


Perhaps what you meant to say was "please let us know more about how you chose your current teacher, so we can better help you address or rule out the possibility that your instructor choice was sub-optimal."

In which case I would be happy to describe some of the background to our choice of a teacher.

In actuality, I spent considerable effort choosing a music teaching institution, but had to defer to their choice of instructor within that institution. First, I made the choice that group instruction at the age of 4 when we intended to let her start was preferable to individual instruction. This was based on some of my own perspective and also the guidance of several folks in the psychological and child development professions, one of whom runs a piano school as well. The result of this choice was to focus on music/piano schools rather than individual teachers.

Then I narrowed down to three schools logistically feasible to attend in the local area. One was ruled out for being a bit drab, not having any well defined philosophy, and various other reasons that just didn't make me attracted to it.

That left two quite interesting schools from which to choose. One offered a specialized group piano program for preschoolers, eventually leading into a regular piano academy. I almost thought this would be perfect, until I patiently thought about it and did some follow-up research over the course of weeks. They stated that there is a special opportunity in the 3.5-5 age window to enhance a child's brain development by receiving music instruction, particularly piano. This is backed up by all sorts of research, which is still ongoing. The director is a specialist in this sort of thing, and has both an MTNA instructor qualification as well as a Doctor of Psychology.

The problem was, after reviewing on-line performances of the students and puzzling for a while over why it might be that the director particularly hates piano competitions (despite specifically advertising her ability to train students through the difficulties of advanced piano performance) was that the performance level of the students was totally unsatisfactory. I also wanted to attend one of their recitals, but around that time they decided not to make their recitals open to the public anymore. I finally decided that this school was not satisfactory, but might remain as a last-resort in the event that intractable motivational difficulties arise in the future. In that case, I might rather have her play at a trivial level and enjoy herself as well as get some social interaction, rather than abandon the piano.

During this process I also attended two recitals from the final candidate school. The level of performance from this school was excellent, and the director is an accomplished pianist. I was also paying visits to the school during this time both by myself to speak with the director, and with my family so my wife and daughter could have multiple opportunities to see the place, meet the director and Nisha's potential teachers. At her second final visit, she gave a brief demonstration of what she had learned at home.

This led to some discussions between the director, a prospective teacher, and myself. Prior to the demo, they had shown us the Music for Little Mozarts (Faber) curriculum. We thought that would be what Nisha would do. But after the demo, the director said that she was too advanced for that and suggested private lessons. However, he also agreed that for her age, a group setting was likely to be best. So we signed up for group lessons at the level of basically where the kids might be after finishing the Little Mozarts. The entry level has not been a problem. She is presently using the Primer Level "Piano Adventures" (Faber) series. This seems to be well matched to her technical abilities, but a bit primitive for her musical abilities. That is not a major problem since we and the teacher can supplement the books with more interesting musical pieces.

A problem is that there aren't enough students to have more than her in her "group." So she is effectively getting private lessons. The teacher is grounded in a mixture of musical disciplines, but also is one of the schools instructors specializing with little kids. To this end, I think she has been doing a respectable job both in trying to teach, experimenting with exploring the capabilities and interests of my daughter, and just plain coddling. So I am in no way unhappy with the teacher. She is no hardened professional, nor "wolf."

Thus, a question remains as to whether my child is too young. This is a difficult question. There is ample evidence that kids at the age of 4 are perfectly capable and happy to learn serious piano. The following is one of my daughter's favorite sources of inspiration (a few months ago, anyway):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itku8gDfAyY&feature=channel_page
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#1233954 - 07/19/09 07:27 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

What I'm getting from this is that you believe in order to excel at something you need to start young, right?
So will your child be one of those children that is in absolutely everything so as not to miss out on anything?
Then she will excel at nothing.

Forgive me if I'm rude I don't mean to be, but I see this happen way too often where parents throw their kids into everything thinking that they "have to start early!!" and they just end up burning out of everything.


I also do not agree with the tendency for kids to be entered into an excessive amount of activities. On the contrary, my family values considerable idle time for contemplation and creativity, as well as very little passive stimulation (TV watching, etc.) so that time is spent actively entertaining ones self rather than having it fed to us with no effort required.

We carefully consider what activities to try with our daughter based on in what Nisha shows interest, our family values, as well as what may be a valuable use of time to learn (of potential economic value as an adult.) Recall that I described that my child eagerly sought to learn and play the piano on her own volition before trying formal instruction. That coupled with the fact that there are many 4 year olds with significant piano capablity as well as a growing number of music programs catering to preschoolers, made it seem perfectly sensible to experiment with lessons.

So we are simply at the "evaluating the data" stage of the experiment.
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#1233955 - 07/19/09 07:32 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: C.Y.]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: C.Y.

Is there a scientific research that supports this?

This is where I learned about it:

http://www.dana.org/news/features/detail.aspx?id=12466
Originally Posted By: C.Y.

If you think your 4 years old is not ready for lessons, just wait a year or so and try again. Like I said, my son started at 6 1/2 years old. And in less than a year, he already caught up other kids that started at age 4 or 5. Unless your child is a prodigy and very mature, I just don't think you need to start lessons at age of 4.


That is a perfectly reasonable way to look at it. Thanks for the input.
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#1233959 - 07/19/09 07:37 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Gyro]
Mr.CRC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Livermore, CA, USA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
And if all else fails, there's a trick you
can use. You apparently have an acoustic piano,
but an acoustic can be heard a block away. Imagine
a child, with newly-formed senses, trying to
play something that loud while sitting in front
of it. This is, in fact, is why the dropout rate is
so high in piano; it's just too darned loud.
People with keen hearing--your daughter may
be one of these, based on your description of her
picking up on wrong notes in your playing--
have a tremendous disadvantage at the piano, rather
than advantage, because the cacophony created by
the multiple vibrating strings grates on their
senses and quickly causes fatigue.


Wow! Interesting views. Perhaps I was being imprecise about saying that we obtained a "piano." Heh, heh, I know how sensitivities are around here about that. What we have in fact is a decent mid-range digital piano that I specifically chose for the pleasantly realistic feel of its action, and reasonably decent sound quality.
Originally Posted By: Gyro

This is in fact why silent keyboards were introduced
in the late 1890's--a silent keyboard is similar to
a digital piano with the power turned off. They
allowed pianists to play anytime and anywhere without
disturbing people, and more importantly they allowed
a pianist to saves his ears and nerves, resulting in
more practice time and better technique development.
Claudio Arrau used one all his life.


Well I learned something today.

Thanks for the response.
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#1246350 - 08/09/09 05:38 PM Re: Worried my daughter is fading out of piano [Re: Mr.CRC]
pieper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Netherlands
Hi Mr CRC,

Sounds like youre kid is extremely smart.
The best thing you can do is probably to let her figure out things a bit by herself. People this smart usually are very good at finding their own way and too much control or focus can easily have a negative effect.

regs,
m


Edited by pieper (08/09/09 06:17 PM)

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