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#1242400 - 08/03/09 04:43 AM nervous about teaching very young students
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
I recently took on a student who has only just turned 5, and I'm not comfortable with how it's going. It's so different from teaching 6 year olds! And I just had a parent ask me to teach her four and a half year old son.

I started when I was 3 so I know it's possible, but there just seems to be so much basic stuff you have to teach them, like getting secure in the first 7 letters of the alphabet backwards and forwards, and knowing which hand is left and right. I'm intimidated by the whole thing.

How much slower do you take things for a 4 year old compared to a 6 year old? What is the normal progression? And do you think it's ok to spend 5 minutes singing if they can't yet sing in tune? Because i think being able to sing in tune is important. Gahhh. I'm getting all stressed about this. Any advice would be fantasic.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1242416 - 08/03/09 05:58 AM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: ToriAnais]
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
lol...I know how you feel, but first thing you need to do now is ...bbrreeaathe...:)

In my experience, and I can only speak of my experience, the most difficult aspect of teaching students so young is 1) keeping their attention, and allowing focus ability to develop, and 2) ensuring some progress takes place from week to week.

For 1) as much vocal and physical interaction may help...find a book where there are big notes (not even on a stave) with the letters written in the notes. Have them play the notes and say them outloud with you. Also, play various rhythmic songs on the piano and get them to clap along with you. As for singing, I wouldn't expect too much in the way of correct tone...but praise all efforts anyway, and sing along with them. Young children like interaction with you and any encouragement at every step will eventually lead to them having greater focus independant of your constant interaction during lessons.

As for 2)Forget writing tasks in a notebook...but rather mark a star above each song they need to work on for the week. This will assist the parents in knowing what exercises they need to play, and be clear with the parents about how many times a week the child needs to play the exercises (emphasise consistency and not length of practice). I found a book for young child beginners that is made up of very simple piano duets...the young students love playing along with me, even if they're only playing C, D, E, (by the end of the book, they're almost at a Gr 1 level however)...doesn't take long for them to get the idea of rhythm and keeping in time, as when they lose time, the duet goes wrong....And we always count outloud while we play together. Spend a considerable amount of time each lesson going over previously taught info in the form of asking them questions, and prompting them...note identification...note values..etc. Also, spend some time each lesson playing previous exercises, dating back to the really easy ones for them and building up to present ones.

Best of luck...I certainly don't profess to being a pro at teaching very young children, but I hope some of this may help you smile



Edited by lotuscrystal (08/03/09 06:00 AM)

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#1242456 - 08/03/09 08:38 AM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: lotuscrystal]
EDWARDIAN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 89
Loc: New York, USA
I've taught & am teaching a couple 4-year-olds, and there are a some good methods. One is Music for Little Mozarts which has Beethoven Bear for the bass notes & Mozart the Mouse for the treble. No staves for the beginning. Well-presented. Bastian also does a very good primer - the one with the pink cover. Gets kids used to finger numbers, up, down, nicely illustrated.

Above all, keep the lessons short so the little guy doesn't get tired or bored. I only do 15 minutes for 4-year-olds.

I think parents are pushing their children too early, but then, kids seem to know more sooner because the world is so different than when began our study. However, learning an instrument involves so many skills that I think parents are unaware of. So go gently and slowly. They will benefit from the lessons.

Good luck!

Joan
_________________________
Joan Edward

Private piano teacher, 20+ years
EDWARDIAN45@hotmail.com

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#1242602 - 08/03/09 01:00 PM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: EDWARDIAN]
TXPianoTeacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/17/09
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: EDWARDIAN
I've taught & am teaching a couple 4-year-olds, and there are a some good methods. One is Music for Little Mozarts which has Beethoven Bear for the bass notes & Mozart the Mouse for the treble. No staves for the beginning. Well-presented. Bastian also does a very good primer - the one with the pink cover. Gets kids used to finger numbers, up, down, nicely illustrated.

Above all, keep the lessons short so the little guy doesn't get tired or bored. I only do 15 minutes for 4-year-olds.


I too have taught the very young. My youngest was 3 and a half. I didn't get freaked out by it because I also teach preschool (3 year olds) in addition to piano. She was actually already my student at school, so she wasn't quite as shy as she otherwise would have been. Edwardian is right with lesson length. It is good to keep it short to start, because you can only teach them until their attention runs out. However, if you vary activities enough, and have enough material you could make it a little longer. My girl is currently at 20 minutes, but I am thinking of moving her up.

I also use the Music for Little Mozarts series. I find it very helpful. I actually have the mouse and bear characters and put them on the piano, then ask her to find "Big Bear Sounds" and "Little Mouse Sounds" (high and low). We also sing a song to help her identify fingers, which is in one of the Music for Little Mozarts teacher books (Thumbkin is finger number 1, etc.) I also have red and yellow yarn, and I tie pieces around both wrists so she has a "Red Punch Hand" and a "Lemonade Hand", which for some reason is much easier for them to remember than right and left.

Finally, put as much vocal work as you can into it. Have them match pitch and hum with their little songs. It will help develop the ear, and connect what they are doing (pushing down keys) with the sound it is making. Rhythm games are also great. Anything highly interactive is good for the young ones.

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#1242681 - 08/03/09 02:52 PM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: TXPianoTeacher]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Check out Faber's My First Piano Adventure. Getting lots of good reviews.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1242690 - 08/03/09 03:03 PM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: Minniemay]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I've taught some 4 year olds before, and for a fresh 5 year old I think this will still hold. Divide up your lesson time between being at the piano and being away from the piano. The older the student gets, the more time will be spent in front of the piano. With the young students, I spend a lot of time coloring, naming, playing games, and being active. Then we take those activities and we bring them to the piano for reinforcement. Don't be alarmed if you spend 20 minutes out of 30 just sitting, coloring, and chatting.

Remember that conversation skills aren't fully developed yet, and that if the student wanders off and starts talking about random things, you can bring them back to the topic at hand very quickly without upsetting them. It's just the way they operate - it's not rude, it's not disrespectful, it's just normal. For example, you could be coloring the lower half of the piano in blue and suddenly the student will start talking about her boo-boo on her knee. I'd reply with something like, "I'm sorry that happened to you, and I'm glad that you weren't too badly hurt. What color should we use to color the high notes on the piano?"

Expect a LOT of repetition. A lot. Familiarity makes kids happy, though, so don't be afraid to spend a lesson or two reviewing and talking about how much your student already knows!
_________________________
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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#1243550 - 08/04/09 06:27 PM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: Minaku]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
Thanks for all of your long thoughtful replies. I had a lesson yesterday with the just-turned-five year old and spent more time away from the piano beating rhythms on xylophones and writing notes on the board and the lesson ran much smoother. Time at the piano was more productive and she was engaged almost the entire time.

Unfortunately the mother doesn't understand the importance of singing in developing her daughters ear and said in a trite voice "oh well, I guess it's nice for her to be learning singing as well". I think I need to do some reading up on that so I can give mums knowledgable answers to why being able to sing in tune is important.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1243599 - 08/04/09 07:55 PM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: ToriAnais]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5946
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: mitts_off
I think I need to do some reading up on that so I can give mums knowledgable answers to why being able to sing in tune is important.
Can I recommend Music, Young Children and You by Doreen Bridges. While not specifically about piano teaching it has a wealth of information and ideas for working with young children (0-5) by one of Australia's leading music educationalists. I'm pretty sure it's still in print - ABC shops sometimes have it.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1243794 - 08/05/09 06:13 AM Re: nervous about teaching very young students [Re: currawong]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
Thanks Currawong I'll look into it.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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