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#1252694 - 08/20/09 02:57 PM The undisiplined student
bittersweetmusique Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/09
Posts: 60
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Have you ever had a student that was ridiculously spoiled and undisiplined?

Today one of my students (she is 5 years old) told me directly "I hate the piano!". She is one of those children who has a very short attention span, uses "I don't know how to do it, it's too hard" as a reply for everything and her mind is constantly racing everywhere.

I am a beginner piano teacher and I am aware that she may be a little too young to be starting formal piano lessons (7 is the ideal age). Althought since I am in this position, I am lost at what to do.

I have another student and she is 9 years old. She is a sweet disiplined girl and we have an amazing connetion because she is patient, responsible and enjoys playing music. She even told me that she wanted to become a piano teacher just as I am.

How do you deal with all sorts of personalities? Especially the ones who don't mend well with music?

Am I too strict? I try as best as I can to make sure the children are learning lots and being productive. I can't imagine myself singing to my 5 year old student all the time just for her own enjoyment.

Please let me know what you would do?


**edit: How important is it to build a good relationship with the student? I almost see it as the MOST important aspect since they would definitely put a lot more effort if they actually enjoyed lessons with their teacher.


Edited by bittersweetmusique (08/20/09 02:59 PM)
_________________________
Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.

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#1252701 - 08/20/09 03:03 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: bittersweetmusique]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Five year olds should simply be slapped with your ruler when they threaten to become unruly. Why should they think they might be allowed to act their age? Your only responsibility is to keep them quiet and sitting still. The worst thing you could do is engage them with play and garner their interest in the delicious sounds emanating from the piano when one tickles the ivories. I recommned a parent-teacher conference where you inform the parents that they are ruining their child through lack of discipline and by spoiling her with paid lessons with such a wise teacher.


Edited by theJourney (08/20/09 03:03 PM)

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#1252709 - 08/20/09 03:13 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: theJourney]
verania5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Michigan
Good heavens, a 5 year old who cannot sit still? Stop the presses!
In seriousness, this is to be expected. Try to appeal to a 5 year old by telling stories and appealing to their interests. Every 5 year old is obsessed with something, ponies, trains, cars, etc. Once you figure out what interests the child, try to incorporate it into your lessons. Perhaps play a piece that has something to do with a train, for example.
You're not dealing with someone capable of rational thought yet. Just remember, this is a child.

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#1252712 - 08/20/09 03:20 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: verania5]
bittersweetmusique Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/09
Posts: 60
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Thank you for your comments, you've made me feel reassured that it is normal to go insane with someone as you said was not capable of rational thought.

GREAT ideas! Conferences with parents and finding the child's obsession. I believe this 5 year old thinks she's a princess=).... although enforcing it throughout her lessons??? ...ehhhh maybe not! (This may spoil her further!)

Thanks for the input! smile
_________________________
Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.

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#1252722 - 08/20/09 03:36 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: verania5]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
When a parents asks about teaching their 5 year old, I suggest Kindermusik class first.

Currently I have two very young students but I make exception for them because they take with their siblings. I give a 15 minute lesson to the five year old then ½ hour to the sibling and then I bring in the five year old again for another 15 minutes. I am never harsh with these little ones ( or any students) We play games and I use Piano Adventures pre piano course. pPian Adventures has wonderful CD’s and activities that make learning piano fun. I concentrate on dexterity and Rhythm games

I am clear with the parents that progress will be slow but their little one will have a positive beginner piano experience.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1252723 - 08/20/09 03:36 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: verania5]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
BSM, I have had a few like that over the years. Is this child's parent in the room? I found that the "attitude" and the fake tears went away after I asked mom to wait outside.

That was hard for me to do, because mom and I had good rapport. After mom left, the children became less manipulative and lots less whiny. I'm sure you understand that it is a child. But just because she is a child does not mean you have to tolerate disrespect.

When a kid says "I don't know how" or "it's too hard" I just tell them to repeat what I said and then wait a second before they say anything.

I had one that drove me up the wall with "huh? I don't get it" over and over and over til I finally said "you don't even let me finish! Let me finish talking, count to 5 and then tell me what you want to say". It really helped. She was just using that as an excuse not to try new stuff.

5 year olds can be and probably will be wiggly. Let her do fun games on the keyboard between "work". Have her stand up and count out the music that you clap by kicking into the air. This makes them laugh cuz they're never in tempo with me smile There are lots of keyboard things to keep her busy learning, but having fun too.

I don't know if you're being too strict or not, but I believe in being strict in the beginning and letting the reins out later. It is important to build a relationship, but you're not her counselor or entertainer. You can clearly spell out what is acceptable and still have a good relationship.

There will always be some kids you like more than others. You just need to put on your business hat and go about your lesson. I have never had to let someone go jsut becuase of personality differences. Some kids are more fun than others, some work harder etc...

We just need to do our jobs and as they say "fake it til you make it" works wonders when you don't like the kid or their behaviors. smile

I don't recommend talking to mom, she is what she is and I'm sure she believes she's doing the right thing. We have to accept that we don't always agree with many things parents do, but unless it's about piano, we have no business telling them how they are screwing up their kids lol.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1252730 - 08/20/09 03:43 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: theJourney]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I have always questioned if a 3-4-5-6-7 year old can be considered a piano student. The student part is what I question. A participant in a group music appreciation or introduction to general music making, yes - like the programs that have been in place for a while. They learn by doing and the activities are playlike. The piano and the keyboard are not specifically learned - applied piano does not exist with a music staff nor the graphical keyboard understanding.

We know that piano takes comprehension and logic - logic and discernment doesn't appear until about age 9. Associations and comparisons of the same and different as related to spacial organization is required to decipher complex written music. Many adults cannot do these things.

The fact that she is 5, spoiled and undisciplined in your viewpoint, makes me feel sorry for her. A well meaning parent and a willing teacher have nothing but the best of intentions for her to be musical, but the situation has no possibility of being successful if you have no previous experience in teaching a child of this age.

I know the Mozart Mouse series is pretty popular and many teachers use it with their very young students. I, myself, would not be interested in using such a story plot and characters to have to "sell" or "stack" the study of music upon. Someone needing this kind of "propping up" is not a candidate for piano lessons, in my opinion. I could never take money for providing "story time" to a student, nor to accomplish so little over a very long time.

There are children's minds we are invading and their entire future depends on their early teachers as to what is doable and how to do it. I caution you to become well thought out in teaching young children one on one in private lessons.

Another factor is their size and ability to control their muscles - they can't. The piano is uncomfortable to use for their little hands and weak fingers. The music is above their eye level and their chins are in the air to read it. Try this position for yourself for 3 minutes and see how "wonderful" this is for the child. Children are too short on the bench to access the keys without being fatigues and stressed. Do we want that? We are asking kids who have normal desire to move above to sit and focus on something minute (a note head) and to laser-beam their eyes onto the note and then the next note, etc. We are asking the impossible with all these things.

The child should try to get herself out of this situation I think, and that is probably what she is doing, rebelling to authority. She is far wiser than the adults in this scenario.

Please don't take offense as you are a new teacher, I think I know these things because of my own experiences through the years. My opinion is based on my personal experiences. Teaching a 6 year old who has been through kindergarten is a lot easier to do - they have been exposed to structure in the classroom, they are used to interpreting symbols - alphabet and numbers. They have a degree of behavior that assists you. They still do not have the size and development for accomplishing much.

Yes, there are prodigies from time to time, however they possess the profile of a thinking musician in their brains before they ever start lessons and they usually have the best of teachers understand the child mind and behavior and have the ability to develop musicians of the highest caliber. These teachers are usually superior pedagoges. Prodigies need strong teachers to help them gain control of their childlike bodies and to develop the musical mind based on the talents and characteristics already in the child. I hope readers recognize the difference between "young learning musicians with recognized abilities" and "beginners at the piano" who are fed every piece of information. The difference between "self-starters" and the "wind-up" kind.

What CAN be done with THIS 5 year old?

What is going to be BEST for the child at this time?

How do you evaluate readiness for piano lessons in a child?

Do you really want to be teaching this child specifically and dealing with situations and problems whenever they crop up?

Behavior problems and lack of attention or interest are very hard to overcome. This is one of the things I look for in all interviews. It is easily recognizable in each person who is in the room during the interview or the lesson. Is it a positive experience or a negative one? All indications are usually visible and the clues we receive tell us what we need to know.

Betty Patnude

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#1252746 - 08/20/09 04:01 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Mrs.A]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
When a parents asks about teaching their 5 year old, I suggest Kindermusik class first.

Currently I have two very young students but I make exception for them because they take with their siblings. I give a 15 minute lesson to the five year old then ½ hour to the sibling and then I bring in the five year old again for another 15 minutes. I am never harsh with these little ones ( or any students) We play games and I use Piano Adventures pre piano course. pPian Adventures has wonderful CD’s and activities that make learning piano fun. I concentrate on dexterity and Rhythm games

I am clear with the parents that progress will be slow but their little one will have a positive beginner piano experience.


Great ideas you have here.
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Piano Teacher

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#1252785 - 08/20/09 04:48 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Barb860]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Five is young. Will it work? It totally depends on the child, the parents and the teacher.

I don't teach very many five year-olds, but I do have a couple each year, and usually they turn out to be my best students.

However, I teach a parent along with the child. This is not an option. If I do not have a promise from a parent to be part of the lessons, it's a no-go. This kind of teaching is actually much harder for me, since it involves my teaching the parent how to teach the child, and that is HARD.

And yes, they all are wiggly. It takes lots of patience, lots of encouragement, and often the hardest part is getting the parent not to push too hard. Or panic when something is not immediately understood.
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Piano Teacher

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#1252789 - 08/20/09 04:53 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Teaching a 6 year old who has been through kindergarten is a lot easier to do - they have been exposed to structure in the classroom, they are used to interpreting symbols - alphabet and numbers. They have a degree of behavior that assists you. They still do not have the size and development for accomplishing much.


Kids around here start school at 3. They have been exposed to all these things much earlier than 6. I'm sure kids start at different ages different places, but they don't all wait til they're 6 years old. I disagree that a 6-7 year old does "not have the size and development for accomplishing much." They can accomplish a ton, they just need to go about it differently than the older/bigger kids do.

It is easier once they can recognize symbols, but they definitely don't need to be able to read.

You will have things "crop up" in all your students at different times, that's why we call it learning. If it were easy all along and there were no challenges for them or you, we wouldn't be teaching them anything.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1252794 - 08/20/09 04:59 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

You will have things "crop up" in all your students at different times, that's why we call it learning. If it were easy all along and there were no challenges for them or you, we wouldn't be teaching them anything.

Very true. The first big drop-out I face is middle school. If I can't find a way to get students to a reasonably advanced level by 6th grade, I have about a 50/50 chance of losing them.

The younger I can start them, the greater chance I have to get them farther advanced by the time they are a bit older.
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Piano Teacher

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#1252809 - 08/20/09 05:15 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5445
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
. . . applied piano does not exist with a music staff nor the graphical keyboard understanding.

We know that piano takes comprehension and logic - logic and discernment doesn't appear until about age 9. Associations and comparisons of the same and different as related to spacial organization is required to decipher complex written music.
. . .

There are children's minds we are invading and their entire future depends on their early teachers as to what is doable and how to do it.

. . . We are asking kids who have normal desire to move above to sit and focus on something minute (a note head) and to laser-beam their eyes onto the note and then the next note, etc.

. . .
Betty Patnude


Perhaps one can teach piano to younger children, and probably others - I'm aware of a couple of other methods -, without starting at translating notes on paper to the keyboard? Does the Suzuki piano method start, as does the Suzuki violin method, by playing by ear? It seems to me I've read posts by people here that teach methods similar to the kindermusic mentioned in this thread that also incorporate keyboards? At any rate, it seems to me that reading music doesn't have to be the starting place for learning/teaching piano. I've had very young children be fascinated with the music and learn simple songs quickly without reading music.

And I really, really hope we're not invading their minds laugh

Cathy
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#1252822 - 08/20/09 05:31 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: jotur]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jotur

At any rate, it seems to me that reading music doesn't have to be the starting place for learning/teaching piano. I've had very young children be fascinated with the music and learn simple songs quickly without reading music.

Reading is the starting place for reading. smile

It's so simple, it's ridiculous, isn't it?

There is also rote learning (imitation) and playing by ear (nothing to do with reading).

I always start with reading from day one, but that's my personal preference. If I'm teaching anything, it is easiest for ME to write it out rather than present it by example and have to REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT. wink
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Piano Teacher

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#1252884 - 08/20/09 06:47 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Gary D.]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5445
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Reading is the starting place for reading. smile

It's so simple, it's ridiculous, isn't it?


Yes it is. But my thought was that reading doesn't have to be the one and only place to start playing piano, as you indicate later.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
There is also rote learning (imitation) and playing by ear (nothing to do with reading).


I've used the phrase "rote learning", too. What I mean by it is that if one learns something by rote they have learned to do only that thing, and nothing they have learned is transferrable to other things, similar or not. I don't equate rote learning and imitation. Even if I learned to play Mary Had a Little Lamb by imitating you playing it on particular keys on the piano it doesn't seem to me that I've necessarily not picked up other information that I can use to play, say, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I may well have also learned that "higher" pitches are played to the right on the piano, and "lower" pitches are played to the left, and perhaps that "higher" and "lower" are words that we use to describe/compare pitches. That's useful and transferrable information. I may have learned how to compare the sounds that adjacent keys make with the sound that keys further from each other make. That's useful information. I may have been singing along - matching pitches to the ones I'm playing is a useful skill, and I can use it to play other pieces - by ear, thereby overlapping with that skill, and I can use it to recognize wrong notes when I'm playing music that I've learned from sheet music later. I may even imitate the relaxation of your hands - watching other piano players has often helped me with that issue. I just think that in reality there is very little "rote learning" in my sense of the word, and I really don't find that it is equivalent to imitation. You may have a different take on it, though.

I only learned to read music, not to play by ear, good little robot that I was smile It was only much later in life that I learned how much differently I played if those two skills could feed back into each other. My music became - music. I suspect you have ways by which you provide that ability to make music that both include and are broader than just the feedback from one's ears to one's mechanics, but for me it was one of the best things I've ever discovered.

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I always start with reading from day one, but that's my personal preference. If I'm teaching anything, it is easiest for ME to write it out rather than present it by example and have to REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT and REPEAT. wink


Unlike me, my brother, who is now a working performing musician, plays mostly by ear. I doubt that at the beginning you would have had to do that many repeats before he caught on laugh So I think there are some individual differences there.

I have no problem with teaching reading, and I'm glad I can read. I don't think any of my ABF recital pieces here have not involved reading at some point in my learning them, and some of them are essentially as they were written out.

But the question here was about whether a 5 year old could learn to play piano, and Betty seemed to think that part of the reason that most 5 year olds can't is because they are not, for various reasons, good candidates for learning to read music. My thought was that there might be other ways to start a 5 year old, and other people, on piano that don't start with reading, if in fact they are not yet good candidates for reading. I would guess that many if not most of the teachers, including you, use some of those ways of teaching.

Cathy
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#1252893 - 08/20/09 07:06 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: jotur]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jotur

Cathy, you have personal ideas of what rote and imitation mean. I don't disagree based on the way you have presented these ideas. I see a blurry "edge" between the two. At any moment we can take anything we have been shown, even a "monkey see, monkey do approach", and may take off from that into other areas, make connections, expand. I see this more as an ability to move from the particular to something more general. To me it is very complicated.
Quote:

Unlike me, my brother, who is now a working performing musician, plays mostly by ear. I doubt that at the beginning you would have had to do that many repeats before he caught on laugh So I think there are some individual differences there.

Oh, I don't disagree. Most people, in fact, will probably disagree with me. I think it is more unusual, for more, for someone to play by ear without at least a lot of theory, chord structure, etc.

I am not concerned about people like your brother. 99% of my time is spent trying to find a way to teach people who don't have that kind of obvious talent. As I've said before, reading very well is important. Being able to play what you hear, without seeing the music, is also very important. In an ideal learning situation, the two would be balanced. In general I think improvisation, arranging, composing and so on are mostly neglected with an emphasis on reproducing. Just saying this will probably get me in a lot of trouble. smile

My point about repeating was simply that if I can show something, through example, and also notate it, the two together are very powerful. Reading should at least potentially cut down some time. As said, reading doesn't come into the picture at all when listening to something that is not notated, anywhere, with the desire to either reproduce exactly the same thing or to master it well enough to start off with a foundation and go on to play with it, in an improvisatory fashion.
Quote:

But the question here was about whether a 5 year old could learn to play piano, and Betty seemed to think that part of the reason that most 5 year olds can't is because they are not, for various reasons, good candidates for learning to read music. My thought was that there might be other ways to start a 5 year old, and other people, on piano that don't start with reading, if in fact they are not yet good candidates for reading. I would guess that many if not most of the teachers, including you, use some of those ways of teaching.

I have found out that most of my problem with the little ones is a matter of attention. Some just don't seem to be ready for what I do. They may do well with another teacher, though I tend to get the small ones that OTHER teachers don't seem to be able to work with. Working with very small children takes a ton of patience and a lot of ingenuity.

The way I teach the parent is often way ahead of the child, in the very beginning, guiding. Perhaps you and most people here would not even consider what I do in the beginning really reading, although I use music and a standard grand staff. It involves heavy use of a keyboard chart, lots of pointing, and just getting across the concept of moving left and right, how far, lines and spaces, steps and skips, and so on.

But I have to repeat that the method I prefer to use is based on my own prejudices. Or biases. Or experiences. I suspect we all "fit" best with certain students, and this is based, among other things, on our own personalities.

In the end, I can only state that, in my opinion, teaching very small children is very difficult and takes a LOT of practice as well as patience. smile

Cathy
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Piano Teacher

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#1252901 - 08/20/09 07:26 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Gary D.]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5445
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Gary - I suspect we're pretty close to being on the same page. I like the way your post came out laugh

I did look up "rote" - "the use of memory usu. with little intelligence", and "routine or repetition carried out mechanically or unthinkingly" - sounds like the way I always read music on the staff frown

I still wouldn't use the words "rote" and "imitation" as similar things, but I understand what you're saying.

Cathy
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#1252912 - 08/20/09 07:47 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: jotur]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jotur


I still wouldn't use the words "rote" and "imitation" as similar things, but I understand what you're saying.

Cathy

I see that as a semantic problem, Cathy. In the sense you are using "rote", I generally see it as rather negative. smile

g
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Piano Teacher

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#1252927 - 08/20/09 08:09 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Gary D.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I just had the night mare experience! A little girl just turned 6 in July, going to 1st grade in September, had 3 clases in KinderMusic and has good rhythm responses and pitch when she sings. She started with me in April - we did my "Piano Power" precharts with very good results. We switched to Finger Painting #1 by Dennis Alexander, a very imaginative book with keyboard graphics to help the student find positions. I label all finger numbers and draw sidewalks between RH and LH to indicate it the change between hands. She likes the music in the book, especially "Giggle Bugs".

Today, Dad brought her for the first time. The demonstrate all kinds of reluctance to be here or to have a lesson: she is biting her lips, chewing her tongue as thought she has gum in her mouth, she is wiggly on the bench, her legs show anxiety in their nervous movement, her eyes are all over the page she loses her place, plays notes that aren't there, plays the wrong hand...but the counting is stable, the steady beat almost always there. She shows annoyance and confusion. Her arms go straight out from the piano as though she is refusing to eat her dinner and needs distance from the food. She is acting out bigtime and I have noticed it all. The playing is reluctant. She missed last weeks lesson due to her vacation plans, she is probably worried about her music making today. She starts yawning.

I have just given a half hour of patient coaching to a little girl who has a great imagination and a flair for drama. I consulted with her Dad and said how do you feel about this display today. Options: 1) Give in to her. 2) Expect that with continued lessons she will eventually show the discipline, maturity, patience and confidence that is not there today.

I was really surprised by this turn of events in a student who is so promising. Her Dad seems cooperative and interested in keeping her in music lessons. At no time did she say a word - it was all a display of reluctance and feet dragging.

This was maybe the longest half an hour of my teaching life.

We will have to see what next week brings. When we work with young kids, we have to be very accepting of the times when things do not go well.

Any advice for me?

Now my 5:00 interview has arrived - a beginner adult - and I'm looking forward to meeting him as John Van Der Brook had referred him here on Piano World.

Then I get to go and have a lot of fun in my husband's barbershop special event tonight. A little R & R!

Betty


Edited by Betty Patnude (08/20/09 08:42 PM)

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#1253021 - 08/20/09 10:21 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Betty, I'm just glad to know all of your students aren't perfect.
What teacher hasn't had these moments and issues every day of his/her life as a piano teacher?
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Piano Teacher

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#1253080 - 08/21/09 12:30 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4777
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Betty,

I can't help wondering if the little girl's "performance" was because her Dad was there. Experience as a public school teacher has given me a rather dark outlook on some parent/child relationships. I don't know the little girl's home situation but is it possible the girl was angry at her Dad or perhaps something unhealthy is occurring in her relationship with her Dad? It sounds like rebellion, fear or anger to me.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1253097 - 08/21/09 01:24 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: gooddog]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Hi, Deborah and Barb,

Thanks for your responses.

Of course, I'm at a chorus rehearsal tonight, but not one of the singers. I watched a coaching session by an expert from out of town who works miracles with the singers the two times I've seen his workshop. Quite a guy with vocal skills, a judge, a chorus director, and a coach. I was paying alot of attention to him and the chorus and their director's responses.

And, up pops little thoughts about the little girl and my interview, and the call to schedule a new interview tomorrow, more thoughts about my aspirations for the year personally, I am actually working in my mind. Then I curse myself for not having a notebook and pen with me so I can write some of the good ideas down. I think I've found a new way to help children be aware of tension when it starts to lead to frustration, and I want to make a note of what I saw in the chorus that worked and transfer it to my teaching.

So, I'm saying I think the mind of a piano teacher never stops noticing things and even when you are fully involved with something else, little nuggets and questions pop up when you least expect it.

I will have to wait till next week to see what if any changes need to be made for the little girl. One of the things I would like to see, if we continue, would be that she finds her voice to be able to tell us about what she is thinking. I think children need a voice in piano lessons and if we allow them to represent themselves, there is less rebellion in the long run. We have to be willing to listen to them as a first step.

One of the things I realized tonight is that the fun participation with games and drums and activities in Kindermusic is gone from her musical life and the piano lessons are about fingers on piano doing workouts and thinking. The earlier music used songs she is familiar with (children's and folk) and they had words to them. The new music is piano solo oriented with teacher duets optional and she does not "know" them going in, and doesn't know what to expect until she's worked them through. She may not be as confident because of this. This would be the contrast of "work" compared to "fun". So, we'll see what happens next.

Thanks, again!

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#1253200 - 08/21/09 08:16 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
GreenRain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
It's obvious that she is forced to play by her family. That is making me really sad.

5 years old kids should read books about dogs and cats that can speak instead of practicing piano.


Edited by GreenRain (08/21/09 08:17 AM)

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#1253289 - 08/21/09 10:48 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17746
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I think children need a voice in piano lessons and if we allow them to represent themselves, there is less rebellion in the long run. We have to be willing to listen to them as a first step.


As do adults. wink

Good insight. I wish you luck in turning things around for this student.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1253575 - 08/21/09 05:36 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
Since you are new, you may not have enough confidence to control little kids. Little kids, the bad ones, will take advantage if his or her teacher is a new teacher. You have to show to them that you are in control, such as show them that the things that you ask them is so easy, you can even play with closed eyes etc. They have to feel that you are superior so they have respect. These are not nice kids. Nice kids will behave....If you are soft and weak, bad kids will abuse you.... It happened to me long time ago, so I had to change my approach when I dealt with this kind of kids.

Don't think that all of little kids are angels....there are many little devils.....They learn very fast in emulating their parents behaviors... Undisciplined kids usually come from weak mother as shown in that TV show Super nanny or Nanny 911. If the mom knows how to place a good discipline, the kids will behave nicely.

Be patient, once you have enough students, you can start filtering naughty and lazy students. Unless, you enjoy the challanges from those kids....Not me..I kicked them out pretty fast...


Edited by RonaldSteinway (08/21/09 05:48 PM)

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#1253856 - 08/22/09 04:17 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Surendipity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 129
Often I find new teachers feel compelled to teach.
This is usually the pressure from being paid.
You probably have a method and a set of guide lines you follow.
That's fine, but don't adhere to your methodology's like fly to paper.
You'll have to bend and be creative and also know when to let go.
That comes in time.
A young student in a "strangers" home and about to try something "new" for the first time. Geesh, that's scary.
The first music to the childs ears should be the sound of your voice.
So, how does it sound?
Children are tiny little narcissits, developing their egos. Ask alot of questions.
Games, school, colours, food, family, dogs, ... etc.
Get the info. Then ask if they have any questions, like your favorite fruit.
They'll usually want to look around too. Don't sit them at the big black box.
let them explore their environment. If they want to look around your house, you call it. I've had autistic children who have had to look into every room, drawer and cupboard before they felt secure. It's all about comfort and safety and "Would you like to wash your hands and have a glass of water?"
If a child shows alot of tension and fidgety movement, play musical piano bench.
Personaly I love movement too, sitting is so boring... blah.
Have other instruments, drums, rattles, bells, a triangle, pots and pans, doesn't matter, just something to pound on.
But do ask about them, they're just wee tiny things who often don't have a 1/2 hour of one on one. Remember what they say for next time, and that's not hard to do if you, like them are really listening. They always ask me about something I've said months ago. Now that's so special that they remembered that and I tell them how nice they did. Children who seem unruley and constantly testing teachers have learned not to trust adults in general. Keep to your word with anything you tell them. Look at it as a lesson for the teacher in personal relations, creativity, patience and personal growth. You may not teach the child to play a song, but you may just be surprised how you teach them and yourself something else that flows with the rhythm of life.


Edited by Surendipity (08/22/09 04:18 AM)

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#1253927 - 08/22/09 10:21 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

We know that piano takes comprehension and logic - logic and discernment doesn't appear until about age 9. Associations and comparisons of the same and different as related to spacial organization is required to decipher complex written music. Many adults cannot do these things.

The fact that she is 5, spoiled and undisciplined in your viewpoint, makes me feel sorry for her.......

Another factor is their size and ability to control their muscles - they can't. The piano is uncomfortable to use for their little hands and weak fingers. The music is above their eye level and their chins are in the air to read it. Try this position for yourself for 3 minutes and see how "wonderful" this is for the child. Children are too short on the bench to access the keys without being fatigues and stressed. Do we want that? We are asking kids who have normal desire to move above to sit and focus on something minute (a note head) and to laser-beam their eyes onto the note and then the next note, etc. We are asking the impossible with all these things.


Please don't take offense as you are a new teacher, I think I know these things because of my own experiences through the years. My opinion is based on my personal experiences. Teaching a 6 year old who has been through kindergarten is a lot easier to do - they have been exposed to structure in the classroom, they are used to interpreting symbols - alphabet and numbers. They have a degree of behavior that assists you. They still do not have the size and development for accomplishing much.




Betty Patnude


Again, well said again Betty.

Piano teachers often know little about child development and learning styles. I truly believe that understanding the way children learn has been the biggest contributing factor to my teaching style. Even as much as my understanding of complicated theory and ability to play advanced repertoire.

Five yearolds are kenetic learners. The standard primer piano books are designed for 7 year olds.

There is much research and understanding about the connection between brain development and muscle movement. That is how they learn. When a child is sitting too still and not exploring their environment there is concern.

We adopted two toddler brothers. Both special needs. They seemed so well behaved in restaurants that strangers approached us and said that it was so nice to see well parented children… They were developmentally delayed and not exploring their environment!

Our next two children are very bright. My one son was all over the place and seemed very undisciplined. He wasn’t undisciplined. He was just doing what very bright five year olds do and we were grateful to see it.

As a beginner teacher I would buy books, search the internet and beginning understanding how differently children learn and what can be expected at each age.

I wish you the best.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1253960 - 08/22/09 11:17 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Mrs.A]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Mrs. A.

Your 4 sons have given you much insight about working with children, I'm sure, and I think I would say the same about the children I raised.

I'm pleased to learn more about the differences you have seen first hand in children's behavior and that you have written about it here. It certainly helps us when dealing with children in our studio. It makes me aware of how difficult teaching young children could be if the teacher has not had individual experience before with young children. Reading about child development is one thing, being there on a 24/7 basis is another.

I have often felt my "mothering" instinct come up while teaching - it's forever linked to my experience. I think mothers who are piano teaching are quick to catch the emotional shifts in the student too. I'm not saying a word about fathers here because it's not something I know about first hand when it compares to piano teaching.

And, I wish you the best, too! With a grin and thumbs up!

Betty

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#1253962 - 08/22/09 11:33 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Wouldn't it be great to have a "front office" person to meet, greet, schedule, inforce policy and all the other things we have to do for ourselves in the business end. That the front office person also had the skills of "Super Nanny" and "Nanny 911" would be extra benefits!

You might be on to something there, especially when a group of students come into the studio all at once. I'd want orderly and efficient movement into the room, I'm sure, not the "mob". Then there is the communication that "Nanny" does - straight forward - clear - no backing down. That's got to work to the benefit of maintaining "law and order".

I work primarily in one-on-one lessons and occasionally there is a student who can't quite settle down, is carrying his emotional baggage with him, tests the patience of the teacher (I have a great deal of patience!) and just generally works contrary to making some progress in music. He needs to know what we expect his behavior to be when he comes in our presence. He needs to know that if he chooses misbehavior, he is forfeiting his potentially wonderful piano lesson. There needs to be a deadline and an evaluation of how long this can go on. All behaviors have consequences - they work both ways - and you want to help him find the path to the positive side. He is going in the wrong direction down a one-way street.

In piano lessons we affect much more than teaching music - we very often put into place very helpful changes in attitude and responsibility and self esteem in our students. That's quite a prize as a side benefit to piano lessons.

I don't think they come knowing what all it means to be lessoned by piano instruction. They discover much about themselves that they didn't know.

Did we work any good miracles this past week?

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#1253967 - 08/22/09 11:39 AM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Surendipity]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I really like what you said:....."you may just be surprised how you teach them and yourself something else that flows with the rhythm of life."

That is a huge contribution to make to children's lives!

Sometimes I wonder if piano lessons are more about the learning of music, or the growing up of the child, as they certainly are both important, and we definitely work in both domains.

Lucky us who get the respect of being allowed to continue for many years with our piano students. They grow up and away eventually, but so many come back into our lives with smiles on their faces, and hugs to share when we happen to meet again in later years. What a paycheck that is to me!

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#1254079 - 08/22/09 03:19 PM Re: The undisiplined student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Surendipity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 129
I can't stop teaching, because I can't stop learning. Knowledge intoxicates me.

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