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#1253379 - 08/21/09 12:49 PM Stubborn young student..
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Hello all,
I have an 8 year old student in her third year of lessons. She is a transfer student, having studied with 2 different Suzuki faculty in her 3 years at the school where I teach.
One teacher left abruptly mid-semester. The child's second teacher took her mid-semester, but then decided at the end of spring session she no longer wanted beginning students. I'm not sure if *this* particular student is the reason why, but.. I wouldn't be surprised. The student was then transferred to me since I taught over the summer.

The mother was very adamant about continuing in Suzuki.. even to the point of being willing to travel almost 2 hours to take lessons with the former head of the Suzuki department in her new location. She agreed to give me a try, so.. we just finished our summer lessons yesterday. I do believe that the family would like to continue with me.

OK.. so now, about the student. Her Mom warned me about her, and she wasn't kidding. This child is very willful. Wants to do everything her way, and doesn't take direction very well. She's not snotty or obnoxious in temperament, but for example, we are starting a piece, Hummel's "Ecossaise" in C major. The opening phrase is C E C E G, which is fingered 2 4 2 4 5.
I demonstrated the phrase using the above fingering. She played it with 1 3 1 3 5. (you see where this is going,right?)

I demo'd it again with 2 4, she played it 1 3. We went through this a few times, until I jokingly asked, "are you purposely trying to do it differently than I showed you?". She laughed, then followed through with the desired fingering. This is indicative of the challenges I have with this student. I'll show her one way, she will invent her own way, which will get her into big trouble later. (i.e., playing with flat fingers as opposed to curved) I'm not sure whether she is just testing me, or what, but I can tell you that I will eventually lose my patience with her. And it does make me wonder what happened with her former teacher. I do intend to ask her if I see the teacher in the fall.

I guess this is the "thing" about teaching. You can teach the best way you know how, but if the student isn't open to receiving the info you are giving.. are you still teaching? I did try and explain to the student why it was better to finger the phrase this particular way. And, I did try explaining why her flat fingered approach was going to be difficult for her. But I knew I was in trouble when I asked her, "Have your other teachers told you about playing with flat fingers?", and she said, "yes. all of them". Oh dear.
frown

The mother has to call me to schedule a time for the fall. I intend to ask her (per my music therapy training) what the best way to motivate her daughter is, though, from our initial discussion, I'm not very sure she herself knows.

What is a good way for me to approach teaching this student? The "do it my way because I say so" approach is not going to work for this one. LOL

thanks,
BevP


Edited by BSP (08/21/09 12:55 PM)
Edit Reason: I keep thinking of stuff.

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#1253382 - 08/21/09 12:59 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
When I have a kid do the opposite of what I say (the fingering thing) I don't say a word.
I will play 2 4 2 4 5 and then just wait.

Eventually they get sick of sitting there (I think it is a lot more uncomfortable for them than it is for me wink ) and play it. If they play it 1 3 1 3 5 again, I will repeat 2 4 2 4 5, still not say a word, and sit and wait again. If they continue to play after they played it wrong I will tell them to stop and we will do it all again.

I found arguing, cajoling and like you said, "do as I say" just aren't effective. Most the kids really do NOT like that silence.

Oh, and I'm looking right at them the whole time it's quiet too smile After they do finally play it, I will say something like "nicely done, continue on" or what have you.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1253385 - 08/21/09 01:02 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: BSP
I intend to ask her (per my music therapy training) what the best way to motivate her daughter is, though, from our initial discussion, I'm not very sure she herself knows


Mom knows what works at home. I would ask if you can get the name/number of her case manager (is she Spec Ed? Possibly could be Oppositional Defiance Disorder) or at least her teacher so you can find out what works at school.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1253396 - 08/21/09 01:15 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
If I were a teacher, I would direct the student to use the fingering I intended at the outset. After the demonstration, I don't understand she was allowed to use her own fingering without being corrected (or why the cycle was repeated without the issue being addressed).

I would never have foreseen that an innocuous question could be a minefield, but maybe giving a child the opportunity to tell an untruth is asking for trouble. And, after all, it's irrelevant whether her past teachers told her to play with flat fingers. That was then, this is now—and you are telling her not to.

It's been many decades since I was a child taking lessons, but I assumed it's still the case that teachers instruct and students follow instructions. Doesn't everything proceed from that fundamental fact? More generally, don't children still defer to adult authority figures?

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1253408 - 08/21/09 01:31 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Could this child have an oppositional defiance disorder? I am fortunate to have very cooperative students and it is not because I am a good teacher. Most kids are fairly well behaved and if they are this bad, I would consider other reasons like some kind of personality disorder. Just a thought.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1253411 - 08/21/09 01:34 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Mrs.A]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
OOPS I see Ebony already mentioned the defiance disorder. I would put my money on it. The question is, how do express this concern to the parent. Good Luck.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1253416 - 08/21/09 01:47 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
More generally, don't children still defer to adult authority figures?
Steven


HA! Wouldn't THAT be nice?! wink

Too many rules in place that protect the kids now, and not the teachers. Kids know it and walk all over us.

The first time I saw kids disrespecting the liasion officer and principal I was astounded. Now I see it's just a way of life.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1253476 - 08/21/09 03:18 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Gosh.. why didn't I think of that? Oppositional defiant disorder. I bet you all are correct... especially after hearing Mom's frustration with her. I do expect to speak with the parent..thanks guys..

sotto voce.. I *did* correct the student, in the exact way that E/I discussed, silently. After a few tries of this, instead of displaying frustration, (which is what I was feeling, and I felt she was "baiting" me), I decided to try to joke about it. Then, she played it the correct way.

I had a student (actually, my next door neighbor) that was rumored to have ODD. I reluctantly took her as a student, and wound up, after a particularly difficult lesson, having her sign a contract requiring positive behaviors at lessons. Mom signed it, student signed it, and we had 1 great lesson after that. The student was prepared and everything. Then she took vacation, a close relative of hers died.. and I never saw her as a student again, much to my relief. My other neighbors even asked me.. "You're teaching XXXXXX? Good luck!"..

Wow.. ODD. I'll have to check my DSM-IV. Thanks, all!
BevP

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#1253578 - 08/21/09 05:43 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I don't believe that any teacher is qualified to correct fingering, or technique, or posture, etc. These will all vary depending
on the physiology and psychology of the individual student. What works for one person may cause serious physical
problems with another. The student is right here, not the teacher, because the student knows his own body
and what will work best for it. Trying to force some theoretically correct fingering on her can cause serious physical
harm if it is not right for her physiology and psychology.

This is why the dropout rate is so high in piano. Teachers force supposedly correct fingering on the student,
typically the fingering on the score, which was put in by an editorial hack at the music publisher, a one-size-fits-all,
generic fingering that was devised in the early 1900's by a hack to fit most consumers' hands. This is hardly
going to be the right fingering for everyone. But this kind of generic fingering is forced on students from day
one, and they persist with it, even reaching quite high levels with it, but eventually the body and mind will
rebel against doing something that does not suit it, and the playing will be shut down, either by injury, or
loss of interest, or lousy playing, etc.

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#1253579 - 08/21/09 05:47 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Gyro]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
WOWZA!!!! GYRO WROTE ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE TEXT BOX!!!!!!!!!

grin grin grin
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1253589 - 08/21/09 06:09 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Gyro]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1622
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I don't believe that any teacher is qualified to correct fingering, or technique, or posture, etc. These will all vary depending
on the physiology and psychology of the individual student. What works for one person may cause serious physical
problems with another. The student is right here, not the teacher, because the student knows his own body
and what will work best for it. Trying to force some theoretically correct fingering on her can cause serious physical
harm if it is not right for her physiology and psychology.

This is why the dropout rate is so high in piano. Teachers force supposedly correct fingering on the student,
typically the fingering on the score, which was put in by an editorial hack at the music publisher, a one-size-fits-all,
generic fingering that was devised in the early 1900's by a hack to fit most consumers' hands. This is hardly
going to be the right fingering for everyone. But this kind of generic fingering is forced on students from day
one, and they persist with it, even reaching quite high levels with it, but eventually the body and mind will
rebel against doing something that does not suit it, and the playing will be shut down, either by injury, or
loss of interest, or lousy playing, etc.




Gyro
This is an absolutely ridiculous post. No beginner knows what's best for their body sitting at the piano. The human body (especially that of a child) is extremely adaptable. If a beginning student was left to their own devices as far as fingering and posture etc. goes THAT is what would eventually cause serious physical harm. I've taught hundreds of students in my career from 5 year old beginners up to (currently) University level performance majors. The vast majority of students who have had problems with tendonitis and other injuries are the ones with strange and unorthodox technical habits that were never corrected.
It is absolutely necessary for a teacher to correct technique and posture when working with a student of any level


Edited by AJF (08/21/09 06:12 PM)

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#1253590 - 08/21/09 06:09 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Horowitzian]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
"Teachers force supposedly correct fingering on the student, typically the fingering on the score, which was put in by an editorial hack at the music publisher, a one-size-fits-all, generic fingering that was devised in the early 1900's by a hack to fit most consumers' hands. This is hardly going to be the right fingering for everyone."

I know. Human hands have changed so much since the 1900s.

:-D
_________________________
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#1253594 - 08/21/09 06:22 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: J Cortese]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5500
Loc: Orange County, CA
Gyro's post has some merit. The fingering added by editors doesn't always work. I actually prefer editions that give zero fingering, so I can write in my own instead of crossing out a bunch of editorialized fingerings.

I do have students who rebel against proper fingering. They prefer to come up with their own illogical, crazy fingerings. They play the same passage ten times and will use ten different sets of fingering. Alas, these are the kids who play poorly, with much stumbling, and ultimately quit piano because they sound bad.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1253614 - 08/21/09 07:00 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: AZNpiano]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I want to ask you if asking her to say aloud the finger numbers marked on the page would make her more accountable. If she says "2" "4", you both would expect the same result. Is it possible she doesn't know her finger numbers? Or, maybe she can't access them when she thinks of the finger number and she has absolute digit confusion? You could go to a table top and remove the sound from the fingering equation - sitting next to her so that she can copy your movements of what you expect to see.

I think it would be important to see that she can reply to the demands of fingering in music before she be allowed to choose the fingering as the music progresses. Some teaches would allow this innate selection, some wouldn't. Certainly what she is doing does not reflect discipline and control, which is what most of us would like to see in our students habits.

She may be random/abstract and you are concrete/sequential - opposing forces. Patience and endurance is the only way through this one.

After enough of this resistance from her, I would have probably said, "We will be here on this point for the rest of the lesson until you cooperate with the markings on the music." The next remark might be "Are you having a learning problem about this?" "Do you find this difficult?"

Perhaps I have less rebellion about fingering because I start students with pre-charts which require a keyboard graphical positon (most of the beginning ones are Middle C - superimposed thumbs - or placement of thumbs on adjacent notes). The only way to play the song is to follow the finger numbers. The "music" looks like this:

RH ____________________
LH

The numbers are played in steady TA's and any numbers written closely together are ti ti's.
Example of Bingo starting: LH 4 1 1 4 4 3 3 4 4 1 1
Example of Happy Birthday starting: LH 44 3 4 1 2 -

So we have the disciplined impulse that we work with first before exacting letter names of the keys or reading from the music staff. To me, this is an incredible way of starting because impulses do need to be controlled and there must be a first thought sent of which hand/which finger will touch the key from the music staff to the keyboard location. This seems to prep them enough, and build confidence. Using many graphics for positions builds visual acuity. Making it so easy for them to make music lets their ears kick in to enjoy the music they are making. It seems to work best with songs they already know from childhood or folk sources.

Through the use of precharts the discipline of following finger number is required. This means that later the student will always note fingering indications in the music.

So I use all fingerings to start with and as we have success in reading different positions on the music staff, the need for number the notes is reduced. You might only have to number the starting notes on each line, or when the position changes. At this point, I recommend teaching by distance and direction of intervals as we are still working with shaping melodies.

Tracking two notes, one each per hand is the next step. Keeping the coordination simple makes for success and then working through more complicated combinations of Left/Right/Together.

It's really difficult when student's present innate obstacles to learning - it's hard to get their attention and cooperation - since they only know what they know in how to function.

We teach them how to accept, think, plan and build.

We can't win this one without their interest and cooperation.

While doing this, it's important not to do damage to their self esteem or be too negative in our approach. Situations like this can bring out the "beast" in the teacher and the student. Grrr.

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#1253621 - 08/21/09 07:11 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Betty Patnude]
LVP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/09
Posts: 289
Loc: Vermont
WAIT ONE MINUTE! I thought the dropout rate was because acoustic pianos were too loud! Now I can't have a teacher for technique either? Methinks someone had a bad teacher once upon a time. And a Betsy Ross to boot!
_________________________
LVP
Charles Walter 1500
Korg SP-170s

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#1253635 - 08/21/09 07:32 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Betty Patnude]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5500
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
While doing this, it's important not to do damage to their self esteem or be too negative in our approach. Situations like this can bring out the "beast" in the teacher and the student. Grrr.


_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1253647 - 08/21/09 07:54 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: AZNpiano]
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Okay, I skimmed but didn't read all. It would seem I'm also meaner than you are... Generally if something's weird in the music, but there's a reason, we/the student will try it both ways, and often enough when trying to speed it up things simply just don't work out with one of the ways... if they do, then hey, so what? For instance, I'd like to see really fast flat-fingered scales. (If the ODD thing doesn't work out, it's worth a try?)

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#1253650 - 08/21/09 07:58 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Gyro]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1491
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I don't believe that any teacher is qualified to correct fingering, or technique, or posture, etc. These will all vary depending
on the physiology and psychology of the individual student. What works for one person may cause serious physical
problems with another. The student is right here, not the teacher, because the student knows his own body
and what will work best for it. Trying to force some theoretically correct fingering on her can cause serious physical
harm if it is not right for her physiology and psychology.

This is why the dropout rate is so high in piano. Teachers force supposedly correct fingering on the student,
typically the fingering on the score, which was put in by an editorial hack at the music publisher, a one-size-fits-all,
generic fingering that was devised in the early 1900's by a hack to fit most consumers' hands. This is hardly
going to be the right fingering for everyone. But this kind of generic fingering is forced on students from day
one, and they persist with it, even reaching quite high levels with it, but eventually the body and mind will
rebel against doing something that does not suit it, and the playing will be shut down, either by injury, or
loss of interest, or lousy playing, etc.


Gyro, most students are normal human being. Very few, especially if the pieces are beginner pices, do we need to alter the fingering to fit certain students. When the pieces are advance, most likely we may need to accomodate the physical differences. For example, Fur Elise, 99.99999% of normal human beings will have no problem with 5454.... if the student insisted on using difference fingering, the teacher should take a look, and find out why using 54545...is not comfortable for this particular student. If the student wants to use different fingering just for the sake of using crazing fingering, the teacher should insist on using normal fingering.

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#1253653 - 08/21/09 08:03 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: AZNpiano]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
I will ask this student when she returns to say the finger numbers as we do the passage. I see a lot of logic, however, in sticking to the fingering as it's written. It's so much for me to explain, but the passage as written starts on treble C, arpeggiates up to G, which is played with the pinky, then arpeggiates down to the G in "middle C" position. Starting this passage on 2 leaves the thumb free to finger the G in middle C position, with little change in hand position. From what I've observed with this student, the less hand movement, the better.

I'm not interested in getting into a power struggle with this student, either, so I hope that by speaking with the mother, I can get some insight on how to proceed with her.

BevP

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#1253663 - 08/21/09 08:19 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: LVP]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: lvp
WAIT ONE MINUTE! I thought the dropout rate was because acoustic pianos were too loud! Now I can't have a teacher for technique either? Methinks someone had a bad teacher once upon a time. And a Betsy Ross to boot!


Brilliant. I havn't seen you post much here lvp. Please come back. I look forward to reading more.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1253702 - 08/21/09 08:50 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Mrs.A]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Almost every time I have a serious problem with a student of any age, I see consistently irrational behavior coming from one or both parents.

I'm not saying that ODD does not exist, but I am saying that a lot of bizarre behavoir is at least partially if not primarily caused by irrational adults.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1253821 - 08/22/09 12:41 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Gary D.]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1491
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Almost every time I have a serious problem with a student of any age, I see consistently irrational behavior coming from one or both parents.

I'm not saying that ODD does not exist, but I am saying that a lot of bizarre behavoir is at least partially if not primarily caused by irrational adults.


100% agree.... In general, odd kids came from odd parents.

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#1253904 - 08/22/09 08:35 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: RonaldSteinway]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
The Mom sounded perfectly "normal" to me, when I spoke to her and saw her. I wonder if the parents are divorced or something, though. I also believe she is the only child.

BevP

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#1253905 - 08/22/09 08:38 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Gary D.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Almost every time I have a serious problem with a student of any age, I see consistently irrational behavior coming from one or both parents.

I'm not saying that ODD does not exist, but I am saying that a lot of bizarre behavoir is at least partially if not primarily caused by irrational adults.


Absolutely!!! Then add the Drs on top of that who put them on drugs and the rest is history.
"If we put the kid into a constant daze, they will be easier to manage". (NOT saying there aren't any disorders out there and don't mean to offend anyone.)
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254038 - 08/22/09 02:13 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1491
Originally Posted By: BSP
The Mom sounded perfectly "normal" to me, when I spoke to her and saw her. I wonder if the parents are divorced or something, though. I also believe she is the only child.

BevP


It is interesting that you mention about divorce. To me teaching students from a divorce parent is also harder.

Just be patient, sooner or later, you will have certain number of students who have personalty that matches yours, and these students will refer you to their friends. Their friends usually will have the same personality like theirs. It takes one or two years to weed out students who do not match your teaching style and personality. yippie

Ron

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#1254039 - 08/22/09 02:20 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Mrs.A]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: lvp
WAIT ONE MINUTE! I thought the dropout rate was because acoustic pianos were too loud! Now I can't have a teacher for technique either? Methinks someone had a bad teacher once upon a time. And a Betsy Ross to boot!

Mrs A: Brilliant. I havn't seen you post much here lvp. Please come back. I look forward to reading more.


Betty: Ditto!

Humor is a good thing to resort to when all else is lost - but perhaps humor really belongs as our first response.

I could learn from you! Laughter feels good!


Edited by Betty Patnude (08/22/09 02:22 PM)

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#1254078 - 08/22/09 03:19 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Betty Patnude]
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
I've never heard of ODD - can someone please explain?
Isn't opposition something we ALL have? I admit I'm a bit skeptical - like when ADD is used to account for why it's difficult to get a 10 year old boy to sit quietly at a desk for 9 hours.

When it comes to the independent student, I find that choices work the best - it disarms them from their only position, which is "don't do what the teacher says". That is their power grab. If instead you approach that kind of student with choices "The finger here is 24245. You can do that, or try another way. Whatever fingering you use has to be fluid and allow you maintain proper hand position while you moving into the next section, etc." Then you're taking away her option of defying you because YOU gave her the option, rather than her surprising you with it.
Another option is to say, "That's a great idea! You should always check the fingering to make sure it works with your hand, since hands are all different sizes. Let's see if the fingering you'd rather use still works when you connect sections."

etc. etc.
I'm sure you have tons of examples of her doing the opposite of what you say - I have a few of those myself. The jist of what I'm saying is put the power back in your hands by granting choices rather than being surprised by them.
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Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
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#1254224 - 08/22/09 07:37 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: MrsCamels]
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: MrsCamels
I've never heard of ODD - can someone please explain?


Symptoms of ODD (from Mr. Google):

Frequent temper tantrums
Excessive arguing with adults
Often questioning rules
Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
Frequent anger and resentment
Mean and hateful talking when upset
Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking

If this sounds like just about every toddler on the planet, you're right. wink ODD is really meant to apply to those children who take these symptoms to the extreme; think of a textbook "uncontrollable" and acting-out child.

There just isn't enough information in the original post to determine whether the child in question has ODD. All children disobey and act up at times, and they're usually not ODD.
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#1254236 - 08/22/09 08:13 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Monica K.]
BSP Offline
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Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Well, perhaps we did jump the gun in "labeling" this student in this manner. To have ODD, she probably has to display several of these characteristics at once. She does have the active defiance characteristic, as evidenced by my lessons with her. I have no idea if her refusal to try my fingering was a "deliberate attempt to annoy".. but it's very possible it could have been, based on the fact that we went back and forth several times about it.

It's very possible that she questions rules and argues with her mother, based on what her mother has shared with me. The very first thing she told me was, "She is 7 years old, but you're going to think she is 11." I've not observed her being mean and hateful talking, but I did get the feeling that mother has her hands full with this one.

Mother also shared that the student is on the swim team. The mother swims, but is not a musician. Mother must have given the student some swimming advice that worked out well.
When she asked the daughter, "Why do you listen to me when it comes to swimming and not piano?", the answer from the daughter was, "because you know what you're talking about when it comes to swimming."

Mother also shared that the previous piano teacher was too "laid back".. she didn't actively correct her very much, didn't control the lessons, etc..

I'm not rushing to judgment here, but I mean, if you're describing your child to a teacher, before the teacher has met her, and these are the stories you choose to share... what conclusion am I to draw? My first impression, quite honestly, was that the child was willful.
And, I waited to see how that would manifest. And, our interaction over the fingering was an example of that.

Personally, I appreciated that a few posters made that clear to me, because, even if she doesn't "officially" have this disorder, knowing that it is possible makes her situation a bit easier for me, because now I know to "expect" this scenario going forward.

ODD? Possibly. Willful? Definitely.

I mean, when you are a student, on some level, you have to be *willing* to be taught, yes? If she wants to do her own thing and not be corrected, then why have a teacher?

BevP

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#1254261 - 08/22/09 08:51 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11708
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This struck me the first day:
Quote:
.... even to the point of being willing to travel almost 2 hours to take lessons with the former head of the Suzuki department in her new location.

Four hour round trip for an 8 year old child? A parent who would consider this? A clue?

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#1254266 - 08/22/09 08:53 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: MrsCamels
I've never heard of ODD - can someone please explain?


Symptoms of ODD (from Mr. Google):

Frequent temper tantrums
Excessive arguing with adults
Often questioning rules
Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
Frequent anger and resentment
Mean and hateful talking when upset
Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking

If this sounds like just about every toddler on the planet, you're right. wink ODD is really meant to apply to those children who take these symptoms to the extreme; think of a textbook "uncontrollable" and acting-out child.

There just isn't enough information in the original post to determine whether the child in question has ODD. All children disobey and act up at times, and they're usually not ODD.


This is very helpful information, thank you!

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#1254279 - 08/22/09 09:19 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: keystring]
Mrs.A Offline
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Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
I brought up the ODD guestion originally. I agree, it is hard to diagnose from a post.

ODD children are argumentative or outright disobedient in even the simplest tasks...Like using the correct finger numbers. Much more so than the average child should be and they can't help it. It can indicate the beginning of mental illness.

But there could be many reasons for this child's personality quarks. The mother is realizing this in not normal and that is a good indicator that something is wrong. It could be many things. I wont list them here.
_________________________
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Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
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#1254408 - 08/23/09 05:23 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: keystring]
BSP Offline
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Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
keystring,
This could point to a problem with the parent, but could also be because of her willingness to stay with the Suzuki method. Her daughter does play several pieces fluently, and has done well in the state school music audition system. Did I mention in my OP that the student is a Suzuki student?

BevP

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#1254437 - 08/23/09 07:59 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Mrs.A]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Could this child have an oppositional defiance disorder?
Wow! I certainly do. I never knew there was a name for it though.
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#1254454 - 08/23/09 09:14 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: keyboardklutz]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Yet another point about this student:

If I choose to give this particular student latitude with the fingering, or perhaps, not challenge her on her flat fingered technique, what happens when she moves on to another teacher, which, she most likely will, someday?

If I choose not to correct these technical quirks, then I become another in a line of teachers who saw her poor technique and fingering choices, and did nothing about it. The parent will find another teacher, and the cycle will continue. How many of us here have taken on transfer students with poor habits and wondered what the heck happened along the way? And, then will cringe at what a horrible time we'll have trying to correct poor habits?

BevP



Edited by BSP (08/23/09 09:16 AM)

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#1254499 - 08/23/09 10:40 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Playing devil's advocate (not that your student is a devil) -- but what's wrong with her fingering? Maybe she's not being defiant, maybe that fingering (1 3 1 3 5)works better for her. I have a hard time imagining why (2 4 2 4 5) would be that much more convenient. Kids often have a hard time creating space between their 4th and 5th fingers.

Sounds to me like she's headstrong, creative (i.e. wants to explore "other ways" to do fingering) and therefore is probably not a good match for Suzuki method.

I'd hesitate putting a bunch of letters after this kid and labelling her. She sounds bored to me.

~Jennifer
_________________________
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Piano Pronto Music Books: www.pianopronto.com

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#1254542 - 08/23/09 12:09 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Andromaque Offline
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Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
I personally do not see much that is wrong or diagnostic of any pathology here. I do see that I am in the minority though.
Humans come in different flavors and I think the child's mom is commendable for being upfront and apparently honest with you. Dealing with this kid will be a small challenge that will enrich your teaching skills.
Plus I hate the word "obedient". Piano class is not obedience school! I for one was always curious to see what is on the other side of obedience and "norm"..

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#1254554 - 08/23/09 12:27 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Andromaque]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Personally, I thought the issue had less to do with discipline and obedience than the basic expectation that teachers know more than their pupils and that lessons aren't about self-discovery. An adult student takes direction from a teacher, so why not a child? If a student isn't there to learn from the teacher, why be there at all? In public schools, the predicament is understandable because it's a compulsory situation. Piano lessons are not.

I think it's a different set of circumstances if the teacher is simply wrong or incompetent. I had such teachers as a child (for piano and in public school), and I did push back. In this case, though, there's no evidence whatsoever of inept teaching or, in my opinion, that the child is anything but inappropriately stubborn, whatever the reason for it.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1254574 - 08/23/09 01:11 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: BSP
If I choose not to correct these technical quirks, then I become another in a line of teachers who saw her poor technique and fingering choices, and did nothing about it. The parent will find another teacher, and the cycle will continue. How many of us here have taken on transfer students with poor habits and wondered what the heck happened along the way? And, then will cringe at what a horrible time we'll have trying to correct poor habits?


Well said Bev! You are right (IMHO) to be concerned about that. Plus, when she gets further along, it will be much harder for her to do things, if she was allowed to play incorrectly in the beginning. For example: the child that was allowed to write "to" instead of "too" his entire elementary school career. He won't be changing it when he gets to middle school!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254576 - 08/23/09 01:12 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
As I look in my Suzuki manual, one of the teaching points of this piece is the fingering. I'm sure most kids would want to play this passage with the fingering of 1 - 3- 5. My assumption is that Dr. Suzuki or Kataoka decided to finger this 2-4-5 as a means to stretch the fingers. I realize it might not be comfortable for some students, but I'm going "by the book" here.

If the student plays the passage with 1-3-5, they will have to change the fingering somehow to land on the lower G in the descending arpeggio that follows it.

i.e. (hopefully I can get the fingerings and notes to line up)
Please note the piece switches between C and E, then goes up to G, then arpeggiates down an entire octave to the G below the starting C. I couldn't get the notes and fingerings to line up.

Here is the student's way, I would guess, as we really never explored the what happens when you arpeggiate downward:
C E C E G E C G
1 3 1 3 5 3 2 1

Here is the way from the Suzuki book

C E C E G E C G
2 4 2 4 5 4 2 1

It seems to me that the second way is *intended* to be easier, so that the student doesn't have to switch fingers.

She may not be a great match for the Suzuki method, but the Mom is in love with it.

What prompted me to post originally was my surprise at the fact that she did not even try the other way. It's not like she tried 2-4-2-4 and said anything to communicate that she was uncomfortable. I demo'd 2-4-2-4, when she didn't
play that way, I verbally instructed her to play 2-4-2-4, and she didn't do it. That was the point of my original post, I think. At least try the fingering.. that's what learning is about, in my opinion.

This student also plays Kabalevsky's, "Clowns" entirely legato, though I've tried to get her to play it as written, with staccato's and legato's. I didn't teach her this piece. The Mom was interested in having this child play the piece at the state auditions, and it will be my job to help her polish it. Given my limited experience with this student, I'm afraid that we will disagree on how this piece should be played, as well. What should I do then? At some point, she's going to have to follow directions or face the consequences at the adjucation, right?

*sigh*
I'm all about creating harmony with each student. I do feel that the fingering issue may be indicative of a bumpy road ahead.

BevP


Edited by BSP (08/23/09 01:16 PM)
Edit Reason: spacing

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#1254577 - 08/23/09 01:13 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Personally, I thought the issue had less to do with discipline and obedience than the basic expectation that teachers know more than their pupils and that lessons aren't about self-discovery. An adult student takes direction from a teacher, so why not a child


Right again Steven smile What is the point of paying a teacher if you don't trust them to do the right thing? The thing that will benefit the student the most in the long run.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254583 - 08/23/09 01:20 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: BSP
As I look in my Suzuki manual, one of the teaching points of this piece is the fingering. I'm sure most kids would want to play this passage with the fingering of 1 - 3- 5. My assumption is that Dr. Suzuki or Kataoka decided to finger this 2-4-5 as a means to stretch the fingers. I realize it might not be comfortable for some students, but I'm going "by the book" here.
For what it's worth, I think you're doing the right thing. Of course it's more comfortable to play it her way, but if allowed to play it that way she won't be prepared when stretching passages come up.

Originally Posted By: BSP
*sigh*I'm all about creating harmony with each student. I do feel that the fingering issue may be indicative of a bumpy road ahead.

I'm sorry, I hope you can get this worked out!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254601 - 08/23/09 01:54 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: keyboardklutz]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Could this child have an oppositional defiance disorder?
Wow! I certainly do. I never knew there was a name for it though.


Wait ONE MINUTE! It just occured to me that my husband is probably ODD too....N0w it all makes sense.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1254602 - 08/23/09 01:55 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
There is also the question of the
validity of the Suzuki Method itself
for piano instruction. The method
was apparently invented for the violin,
which seems particularly well-suited
to it. But given the popularity of
piano, it was apparently jury-rigged
for piano instruction, but it does
not appear to be as well-suited to
piano instruction. And there
is even question of its validity
for serious violin instruction.

The psychological aspect of piano is
universally overlooked. Of course, a
generic fingering scheme can be
forced on any student, and he'll
manage to play with that. But, aside
for its unsuitability to the
student's individual physiology,
if it doesn't suit the student's
individual psychology, this is going
to gnaw at his pysche until the
mind eventually rebels and shuts
down the student's playing in some
way.

No teacher can have a clue as to
the student's individual physiology
and psychology, and this is why
I believe no teacher can correct
things like posture, fingering,
technique, etc., since these are
all intrinsically wrapped up with
an individual's physiology and
psychology.

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#1254608 - 08/23/09 02:05 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Mrs.A]
Sal_ Offline
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Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
I realize this isn't quite the topic, but the most comfortable fingering for me is 1 3 1 3 5 4 3/2 1. I'm not really a "by the book" type of person, though, and from what little I know of the Suzuki method, it expects everything to be done the same.

I think we're all a little ODD... and a little ADD, and about every other sequence of letters out there. Just have to learn how to live with it.

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#1254620 - 08/23/09 02:18 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Gyro]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
There is also the question of the
validity of the Suzuki Method itself
for piano instruction. The method
was apparently invented for the violin,
which seems particularly well-suited
to it. But given the popularity of
piano, it was apparently jury-rigged
for piano instruction, but it does
not appear to be as well-suited to
piano instruction. And there
is even question of its validity
for serious violin instruction.

There's question as to the validity of this criticism, given that it consists solely of vague generalities. There's nothing like slipping in "seems, "appears" and "apparently" when you want the cover of slipperiness for unverified allegations instead of providing the necessary details to back up your claims.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
The psychological aspect of piano is
universally overlooked. Of course, a
generic fingering scheme can be
forced on any student, and he'll
manage to play with that. But, aside
for its unsuitability to the
student's individual physiology,
if it doesn't suit the student's
individual psychology, this is going
to gnaw at his pysche until the
mind eventually rebels and shuts
down the student's playing in some
way.

This sounds more like the wild theorizing and posturing of a self-styled contrarian than anything with a basis in reality.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
No teacher can have a clue as to
the student's individual physiology
and psychology, and this is why
I believe no teacher can correct
things like posture, fingering,
technique, etc., since these are
all intrinsically wrapped up with
an individual's physiology and
psychology.

If it weren't possible for a teacher to know anything of an individual's psychology or physiology, I wonder how it's possible for a physician? Maybe all teachers need to go to med school so that they can understand all those special details intrinsic to each unique individual they meet. smile

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1254663 - 08/23/09 04:01 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
I still prefer her fingering even if it's not "by the book." I think that fingering is so physiologically dependent that it is foolish to force a prescribed fingering on a young student. Both ways work so I would choose my battles and move on. I understand your frustration though if she refused to even try the alternate fingering.

Do you think she enjoys the piano or is being forced? This sounds like pretty classic "I don't want to do this so I'll make life a living hell for my teacher till mommy lets me quit" behavior.

~Jennifer
_________________________
FREE 90-page eBook of sheet music: www.pianopronto.com/specialoffer

Piano Pronto Music Books: www.pianopronto.com

BA in Piano/MA Musicology



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#1254672 - 08/23/09 04:37 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
I think she enjoys playing, actually! I'll just have to wait and see how things go this fall.

BevP

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#1254687 - 08/23/09 04:57 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Let's see if I can create a coherant post - so many things I want to respond to!

My husband was a classically trained violinist, and we, as parents, were suspicious and generally negative about the Suzuki method. Then one day, the Atlanta newspaper did a story on the 10 newest violinists in the ASO. It was divided about evenly between those who had learned traditionally and those who had learned Suzuki. What a surprise to us, that both methods yielded symphony-quality musicians. Our daughter eventually had her first 5 years of lessons via Suzuki, and traditional since then (she's a college junior now, violin performance major.) All of her traditional teachers were surprised to find out she'd learned via Suzuki - they didn't expect her to be such a good reader! And she has an incredible ear and memory.

But I admit to having more concerns about the Suzuki piano method, although I have zero experience with it. To the OP, I wonder if you only teach Suzuki? Are you Suzuki trained? Or is this is your ONLY Suzuki student? Do you use any other material along with?

I posted elsewhere about a new transfer student I have who knew nothing about finger numbers or rhythms. Clueless! She came to me having just "finished" level one Faber. But the teacher had only used the Lesson book; no theory, technique, etc. I stewed for a couple weeks, not sure how best to help her, and pulling my hair out at lessons as we spent 30 mintues on 2 measures with little success. Prior to total baldness, I decided to to start her over at the beginning of level 1. This time we are skipping the Lesson book, and only using technique, theory, and performance. Last week she came in happy and excited, and actually made progress. Her relief was visible.

Prior to that week, I would have also labeled her Oppositional-defiant. Every time I tried to tell her something, she ignored me, interrupted me, or argued with me. Last week she actually spoke her thoughts out loud as she worked on her pieces, "Let's see, this is finger one -- No, that's five, this is one..."

I realized that what I thought was a behavior problem was actually probably a combinaton of being overwhelmed, embarrassed, and ashamed. Much easier to avoid the issue than to constantly be made to feel stupid and inept.

So... all that to say ... perhaps you could add in other material - an appropriate level Dozen a Day book, for example. Something that is more quickly attainable, that reinforces or works fingerings and techniques, something that she hasn't already learned the wrong way. Help her take some baby steps in the right direction and help her develop some confidence.
_________________________
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#1254689 - 08/23/09 05:02 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Please note the piece switches between C and E, then goes up to Bev told us:
"G, then arpeggiates down an entire octave to the G below the starting C. I couldn't get the notes and fingerings to line up.

Here is the student's way, I would guess, as we really never explored the what happens when you arpeggiate downward:
C E C E G E C G
1 3 1 3 5 3 2 1

Here is the way from the Suzuki book

C E C E G E C G
2 4 2 4 5 4 2 1"

If a G/1 had appeared before the first C/2 it would make sense that this is preparation for a G octave G/1 and G/5, with the inner fingers of C/2 and E/4. This is good training actually. Now if there was a little more to the exercise itself, the 2 would have to stay and be played on the C.

Letter Name C-E-C-E-C
Fingering 2-4-2-4-2
Counting ti-ti-ti-ti-Half-Note

If this example appeared in music literature as it is written, I would play it with the fingering the girl used because it appears to be in the Key of C and you have just "created" the octave span, whereas, in the 2-4 example, the octave scan is already there with 3 of the notes/keys and the only finger extention possible is with the 1, and to complete the task, placed on the G.

So, both are valid, I think. I would ask the student to do it as written first, and then to discuss her "options".

Fingering ichoices are based on where we are coming from to where we are going and also on the size and shape of the hand:
long fingers/short fingers - wide hand/narrow hand.

By examining all possibilities, one finds freedom in fingering as long as it is effective in sound production and efficient in movement.

Her reading of spatial relationships from the music page may be different than yours. Perhaps a good part of the remedy could be learning to read by distance and direction and recognizing line to line or space to space 3rds, 5ths and 7ths, and
line to space or space to line 2nd, 4ths 6ths and 8ths. This would tell her how far to open her hand from a 5 finger postion. this may be all the "argument" you need to make in helping her to find "best" fingering.

One question I would ask you is: Are her fingering consistent in the same piece played at different times?

Is she random/abstract in nature and not at all concrete/sequential? You would notice these things by the way she chooses to work through new music, and the way she tackles writing on a page of music. For instance, when asking her to circle all quarter rests on the page, she places the pencil whereever she wants and circles randomly with no organization such as from the top of the music, along each line, circling each on as they appear in reading of the music.

If this is something she does, she may also need some eye training for learning how to move across the page.

I see hidden clues in what you are writing about, but there is uncertainty in my mind until I would see this in action and also from working with her.

There are missing links in her piano education and they can be found in the manner I'm posting about.

Challenging situation you have there!

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#1254737 - 08/23/09 06:54 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1622
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: Gyro
There is also the question of the
validity of the Suzuki Method itself
for piano instruction. The method
was apparently invented for the violin,
which seems particularly well-suited
to it. But given the popularity of
piano, it was apparently jury-rigged
for piano instruction, but it does
not appear to be as well-suited to
piano instruction. And there
is even question of its validity
for serious violin instruction.

There's question as to the validity of this criticism, given that it consists solely of vague generalities. There's nothing like slipping in "seems, "appears" and "apparently" when you want the cover of slipperiness for unverified allegations instead of providing the necessary details to back up your claims.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
The psychological aspect of piano is
universally overlooked. Of course, a
generic fingering scheme can be
forced on any student, and he'll
manage to play with that. But, aside
for its unsuitability to the
student's individual physiology,
if it doesn't suit the student's
individual psychology, this is going
to gnaw at his pysche until the
mind eventually rebels and shuts
down the student's playing in some
way.

This sounds more like the wild theorizing and posturing of a self-styled contrarian than anything with a basis in reality.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
No teacher can have a clue as to
the student's individual physiology
and psychology, and this is why
I believe no teacher can correct
things like posture, fingering,
technique, etc., since these are
all intrinsically wrapped up with
an individual's physiology and
psychology.

If it weren't possible for a teacher to know anything of an individual's psychology or physiology, I wonder how it's possible for a physician? Maybe all teachers need to go to med school so that they can understand all those special details intrinsic to each unique individual they meet. smile

Steven



+1

Gyro, would you be so kind as to post some video footage (or at least audio) of you playing?
I would love to see your 'ideas' in action.
Many people can talk the talk, I'm just curious if you can walk the walk.
I think your ideas in this area are downright ridiculous but I'd be willing to be proven wrong through a demonstration...

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#1254900 - 08/24/09 01:45 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Betty Patnude]
Rick Offline
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Registered: 08/01/01
Posts: 559
Loc: Chicago
Sal said:

Quote:
I think we're all a little ODD... and a little ADD, and about every other sequence of letters out there. Just have to learn how to live with it.


Amen to this. This O.D.D. thing is a new one to me, but they are all starting to sound alike of course, with the 3-letter initialization, and lots of D's. I can't shake the picture of a couple employees in some room somewhere trying so hard to come up with new "disorder" names. First the three full words, then a "sound check" to make sure it sounds cool when initialized into the 3 letters. And of course, the boss occassionally coming around with a "These are awesome Jackson. You are really on a roll, keep it up. I'll get these out there right away"!

Or, maybe I've just watched too many Saturday Night Live skits over the years.

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#1254965 - 08/24/09 07:49 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Lollipop]
BSP Offline
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Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Lollipop,
Thanks for your help. Adding in a Dozen a Day does sound like it would be helpful with this student. I will suggest it, because she seems the type that would really benefit in a number of ways. I am a Suzuki teacher, Suzuki trained, by someone who studied directly with Dr. Suzuki. She is not my only Suzuki student, nor my only Suzuki transfer student. (gosh..can you say that 3x fast?) smile

I do supplement with other materials, Music Road being one of them, for reading purposes. She's about 1/2 way through book 1, coincidentally where the book introduces 3rds. However,
introducing more technical studies will be helpful in giving her something simple to read that is easily mastered, along with developing good technique.

I'm glad you can understand the frustration of taking on a transfer student, and am also happy that you had success with your student!! I hope I have the same breakthrough of understanding with mine, as well.


BevP

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#1254966 - 08/24/09 07:56 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Betty Patnude]
BSP Offline
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Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Hi Betty,
The student and I only got through the first 4 phrases of this piece. It is written in C, and when she gets back in the fall... boy, will I have a lot of info to use to guide her through this piece! smile
I will check to see if her fingering is consistent, and try to make it so if it isn't, and when I get to know her better, I'll know now to look for other clues with regards to her learning style. I still think there may be behavioral issues, based on what her Mom has shared with me, and we'll just have to see what happens.

Gosh, wouldn't it be wild if her Mom decided not to re-register her for fall after all this? LOL

Thanks for your guidance,
Bev

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#1255033 - 08/24/09 10:48 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: BSP]
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
A few months ago I reviewed a book for amazon.com that some of you might find helpful:

Alphabet Kids

It's basically an alphabetical listing of various psychological and neurological disorders that children can have. The authors devote 2-4 pages per disorder, with a listing of symptoms, prognosis, and treatment options.

It's written for a lay audience, and as far as I could tell from the entries on disorders that I was most familiar with, it is quite accurate in its portrayal of the disorders and their assessment of the current state of the psychological literature.

I'm not sure it's a good book for parents to get; too many of the disorders are nonspecific, and I worry that reading the book could lead to 'medical student syndrome' where you start thinking your kid has all the disorders listed there. But I think it's an excellent book for teachers who may encounter a wide range of diagnoses in their classrooms.
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#1255156 - 08/24/09 01:34 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Monica K.]
Sal_ Offline
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Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
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Monika, that sounds really useful. It's going in my shopping cart, and I'll probably get it next time I mass order.

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#1255261 - 08/24/09 03:29 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Sal_]
Mrs.A Offline
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Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
I think as teacher is is important to understand a little about this. Sensory integration is also a big one that affects how children learn. I had a student who always started playing the piano by flattening her hands on the white keys and “feeling” the black keys in between her fingers. This girl is Ausbergers after learning a little about sensory issues and Ausbergers, I realized that feeling the cool keys on her hands was very soothing. I give her time to do that at every lesson. No matter how much I cringe at watching those fingers go that flat just before she plays.

I have a student who is very quiet. When she is concentrating she lifts her hands up next to her head and shakes them. She puts her hand back on the keys and before playing shake her fingers next to her head again. It is very strange and it doesn‘t seem like she can control it. I don’t know what it is. I just started her little sister and she does the same thing. Does this ring bell with anyone? They are both very bright and this quirk is something I have to work around but i would like to know more about it.

I had another student who had a visual impairment and could not track visually. He started piano as a therapy for this problem.

Later I had another student that showed the same tracking symptoms. She struggled seeing that the notes went up or down or repeated on the staff. I mentioned the concern to the parents (who were both doctors) and they were delighted to find an answer for why their daughter was having trouble in school. It was a tracking problem. Not ADD or LD (learning disability) as she had been labeled

On my new student form. I ask “Any medical conditions or concerns I should be aware of?” We need to be aware of diabetes, food allergies and siezures just to name a few.
_________________________
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Church Music Director.
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#1255327 - 08/24/09 05:06 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Horowitzian]
GreenRain Offline
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Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
1 3 1 3 5 is perfectly fine.

I don't a see the reason why you should force her to use differnet fingering unless it's neccessary.

But if you REALLY insist, then demonstrate with 13135 and she will play with 24245. smile

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#1255403 - 08/24/09 07:12 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: GreenRain]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
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Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: GreenRain
But if you REALLY insist, then demonstrate with 13135 and she will play with 24245. smile


LOL why didn't I think of that wink
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#1255429 - 08/24/09 07:58 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
One of the best classes I took in my undergrad years was a course in education called "Psychology of Exceptionality"...the exceptional child in the regular classroom (to teach classroom teachers how to deal with Spec Ed mainstreaming). It focused more on physical and learning disabilities than emotional (or whatever ODD would be classed as), but there were a couple of the things I thought were especially enlightening.

Not only did the prof *lecture* about the effects of these issues on children...she had us all take the tests for the learning disabilities (this is where I found out I had a form of discalcula...after a decade and a half of thinking i was just 'dumb in math')...and she had us do *activities* that simulated what it was like to try to deal with a physical or learning disability...fine motor coordination wearing thick gloves, following verbal directions while the instructor had her back turned and while we were wearing earplugs, reading pages of writing where the letters were jumbled to simulate dyslexia.

It was an amazing learning experience. SHe was a gifted teacher.
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#1255511 - 08/24/09 10:28 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: ProdigalPianist]
sotto voce Offline
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Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
People who believe that the fingering the student chose on her own was "correct" are certainly entitled to their opinion, but I think it's irrelevant to the discussion. If I were the OP, I would feel disrespected by what sounds like, in essence, "Your student was right, you were wrong, get over it." That's really not the point.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1255518 - 08/24/09 10:44 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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It is quite relevant to the discussion.
Quote:
If I were the OP, I would feel disrespected by what sounds like, in essence, "Your student was right, you were wrong, get over it."

If I were the OP, I would not see that is in terms of who was right and who was wrong, and this is not the thing that respect is made of. When something comes up while I'm teaching, I want to see every angle of what might be behind it. To not point out such thoughts would be an act of disrespect because it would be saying in effect that a teacher does not want to look at all angles, and wants blind, unthinking obedience.

It is relevant, because an insistence on something silly like playing all the notes with the same finger or illogical fingering would say something different about the student than an insistence on playing the notes using fingering that most people would use - it means the child is thinking logically and has some understanding of the piano. There may be some aspects of pedagogy she may not understand (if Suzuki invented this fingering for some future purposes) but at least we know she is thinking in a sensible manner. That, for a teacher, is something to work with, and therefore something to know.


Edited by keystring (08/24/09 10:51 PM)
Edit Reason: added stuff

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#1255522 - 08/24/09 10:50 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: keystring]
sotto voce Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
It is quite relevant to the discussion.

That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it. I think you've got it quite wrong.

The OP has a student who thinks she knows more than the teacher, so the issue is how to deal with an intransigent student. It can be assumed, for the sake of that argument, that the teacher is absolutely correct and the student is completely wrong.

It's bad enough that the teacher has been second-guessed by her stubborn student. Now she has to be second-guessed here as well? She didn't ask for anyone's opinions about her fingering, did she? If you want to say the teacher is wrong, then have at it—but it renders this whole discussion meaningless.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1255528 - 08/24/09 11:02 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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Sorry Steven, I hit "post" before I had finished the thought and you'll find it altered above. I didn't expect you to post this quickly.
Quote:
The OP has a student who thinks she knows more than the teacher,

This is an interpretation and not a fact. We know a few things this child has done, but we cannot know why she has done them, or what she is thinking.
Quote:
so the issue is how to deal with an intransigent student

This may not be the problem, or a problem.
Quote:
It can be assumed, for the sake of that argument, that the teacher is absolutely correct and the student is completely wrong.

Some things are absolutes. The note between the two black keys is called D and has a given pitch. That is an absolute fact. It would be inacceptable for a student to argue that it is called F and has a different pitch, and this would also mess up the student.

Here we have a student who is using fingers 1,3,5 to play C,E,G while the book has different fingers written down. The book's fingering is not standard, the child's is standard and logical, so this is not an "absolute" and it is not a question of right or wrong. It might be a question of intransigence. It might also be a question of a student thinking for herself, relating directly with the piano. If that is so, then this forms an avenue for an astute teacher who has a relatively new student. I would want to use this to turn it aorund.

One unknown is the mother, and in what manner she is working with her daughter. We already know that the daughter will accept her mother's advice when her mother has expertise (swimming). Could this be a transition point where teacher and student work more closely and the student begins to have independence from her parent, while taking on responsibility for her studies. Something like this might turn the situation around depending on what is going on. Which is something we don't know.

Because the choice is logical, it may be a relevant clue.

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#1255533 - 08/24/09 11:11 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: keystring]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
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Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1233
Loc: Ohio, US
I've worked with many kids with ODD and usually the symptoms are much more severe than this student has. If she has lasted this long with lessons and is not snotty or obnoxious it is probably some other issue. Many of the ODD students I've worked with are sometimes downright violent and tend to destroy property as a way of purposely annoying. There can be other issues or disorders with abbreviatons going on or she may simply be spoiled and want her way just to have her way. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference because parents may give in to a child with problems simply because they don't know what to do or they are so worn down from dealing with it day to day that they just give up.
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Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.


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#1255537 - 08/24/09 11:16 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Little_Blue_Engine]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
keystring,

Thanks for clarifying. I realize now that I misspoke. My apologies!

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1255551 - 08/24/09 11:45 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
keystring Online   content
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Steven, I should apologize for writing half a thought and posting hastily. It's been kind of wild over here and I thought I had more time than I did when I started to write.

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#1255612 - 08/25/09 03:14 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Furtwangler]
AJF Offline
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Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1622
Loc: Toronto
L O L smile

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#1255644 - 08/25/09 07:18 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
GreenRain Offline
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Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: keystring
It is quite relevant to the discussion.

That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it. I think you've got it quite wrong.

The OP has a student who thinks she knows more than the teacher, so the issue is how to deal with an intransigent student. It can be assumed, for the sake of that argument, that the teacher is absolutely correct and the student is completely wrong.

It's bad enough that the teacher has been second-guessed by her stubborn student. Now she has to be second-guessed here as well? She didn't ask for anyone's opinions about her fingering, did she? If you want to say the teacher is wrong, then have at it—but it renders this whole discussion meaningless.

Steven


Steven, I will never understand why you always think that someone thinks that he knows or can play better than someone just because he/she doesn't do it like a teacher said or doesn't completely follow the scores. I don't always agree with my teacher, but in no way i think i know more than her.

I know that the OP wasn't asking about fingering, but i had to comment it. I used to have the teacher that was forcing me to use her fingering and i quit because of this. So it is very relevant.

Just my opinion, i respect your.

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#1255679 - 08/25/09 08:28 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: GreenRain]
sotto voce Offline
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Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
GreenRain,

Obviously, there are teachers of varying degrees of skill. If you have confidence in your teacher, you should expect that he or she knows more about the principles of sound fingering than you do. If you don't have confidence in your teacher, it's a sign that you should change. If you think you know more about fingering than teachers generally, you don't need a teacher.

Unless there's a presumption that the teacher knows best, why have a teacher (or at least that teacher)?

In any event, please don't assume you know what I "always" think.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1255693 - 08/25/09 09:05 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
GreenRain Offline
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Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
Sotto, the word "always" was really incorrect. I should use "sometimes".

I do trust my teacher and i often ask her to help me with fingering. But no mather how good one teacher is, I will never agree with every single thing she or he says. I do "agree", or let's rather say beleive in almost everything she says, but not everything. It doesn't have much to do with not trusting her, but with my taste. Maybe the pedaling in piece "x" should be used in "y" way, but i think an "a" way sounds nicer. It means that i like it played diferently, not that i think that i'm "better" than my teacher and composer. Of course, out of respect, i will play it as my teacher wants.

In many cases, actually in almost every case, there are different fingerings possible. As long as the fingering is logic and enables you to normaly play without ankward hand position and if it doesnt have an impact on further measures, i would insist on my own fingering. I don't have, cause my teacher corrects my fingering only when it's neccessary. I'm not an expert, but i do beleive that 13135 is good for c,e,c,e,g. Fingering like 12123 (in that case) should of course be corrected, cause it's ankward and because of it you can't control playing well.

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#1255724 - 08/25/09 09:58 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: GreenRain]
sotto voce Offline
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Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
It's not possible to say what the optimal fingering is for any sequence of notes without knowing what comes before it and what follows it.

I think perhaps that's so obvious that it's taken for granted by most, but it's still worth pointing out. It just cannot be said that 1-3-1-3-5 is correct or fine or best without taking into account the context; the same is true for 2-4-2-4-5, and, for that matter, for 1-2-1-2-3, which might be the most efficient in some circumstances.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1255804 - 08/25/09 12:30 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
GreenRain Offline
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Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
I agree Sotto, and i said that: ...As long as the fingering is logical and enables you to normaly play without ankward hand position and if it doesnt have an impact on further measures...

So it's true, you can't always know which fingers to use if you don't know the following measures, but it seems that no matter what follows, my fingering is likely to be correct. But again, to be 100 percent sure, i would need to see the sheets.

I won't go even further into off topic, we already drifted far because of me. smile

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#1255829 - 08/25/09 01:15 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Loc: Puyallup, Washington
As teachers maybe we could give the benefit of the doubt to our students as we realize they may yet be untrained in acquiring pianist skills which includes fingering impulse selection.

Many would be undisciplined in this until they had experienced exercises in fingering such as scales, chord progressions, arpeggios and copious music literature.

Student might rely on their intuitive fingering choices which fit their hands and brains at the present moment. This might work well for them or it might not.

They might not be able to establish a consistent fingering of the same music time after time in playing it. Consistent fingering keeps one steady, assists memorization and avoids mishaps on the keyboard. Inconsistent fingering would unnerve a lot of pianists as it signifies lack of control in using the brain, hand, body as connected together in piano playing.

I think time, effort, education help us learn to work to our optimum in whatever musical task we are strengthening. Learning musicians seem to take the harder road to accomplish that which does not come easy to them. Those who want to rest on their "natural talents", whatever that might consist of, are usually, in my opinion, taking the easier road.

In the long run, it is a matter of discipline and control, the workings of mind-body co-ordination in putting things into the conscious deliberately for reusing in the future on demand (sub-conscious).

Higher functioning is a bigger ball of wax. Instant functioning is a comfortable place, but at some point we exceed our ability to pull it off.

In order to make changes, I think we need to be aware that there are changes that can be made, and that we can make those changes. Otherwise, we are "as happy as clams at high tide". That means to me, that if we don't know that we are missing something, the idea that we might be missing something doesn't exist to us all all. We would be resistant to entertain the question and resistant to change.

Then there are the easily teachables who listen and do and then, maybe, they might make some alterations to what and how they do something musically, but their changes would come from intelligence and their experiences, making the changes welcome, evaluated, and contributing to a better mind set and outcome.

The "can-do" approach to me is what musicianship is all about.

The "oppositional" information that has come up in this topic is very interesting to me. It explains a lot about some teaching situations we find.

I think most teacher and student teams can face this situation with an open mind and some mutual respect. It is only when one of us has a "cemented" mind of unwillingness do we lose the ability to explore the possibilities and potential of what we encounter on our music paths - whether alone in self teaching - or as a team in lessons.

Piano lessons basically means adding structure to produce a "lessoning" of the art and techniques of being a functioning and practiced musician at the piano.

If you think of it like that, what is there to argue about?

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#1255841 - 08/25/09 01:30 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: Betty Patnude]
LVP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/09
Posts: 289
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Originally Posted By: lvp
WAIT ONE MINUTE! I thought the dropout rate was because acoustic pianos were too loud! Now I can't have a teacher for technique either? Methinks someone had a bad teacher once upon a time. And a Betsy Ross to boot!

Mrs A: Brilliant. I havn't seen you post much here lvp. Please come back. I look forward to reading more.


Betty: Ditto!

Humor is a good thing to resort to when all else is lost - but perhaps humor really belongs as our first response.

I could learn from you! Laughter feels good!


Glad to contribute something to the general merriment of your day! Laughter is always my first defense against, well, everything!
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#1255933 - 08/25/09 03:53 PM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: LVP]
trillingadventurer Offline
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Loc: San Diego
"Piano lessons basically means adding structure to produce a "lessoning" of the art and techniques of being a functioning and practiced musician at the piano."

I like that Betty. Very eloquently put.

Margaret
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#1256244 - 08/26/09 02:20 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: GreenRain]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: GreenRain

I do trust my teacher and i often ask her to help me with fingering. But no mather how good one teacher is, I will never agree with every single thing she or he says. I do "agree", or let's rather say beleive in almost everything she says, but not everything. It doesn't have much to do with not trusting her, but with my taste. Maybe the pedaling in piece "x" should be used in "y" way, but i think an "a" way sounds nicer. It means that i like it played diferently, not that i think that i'm "better" than my teacher and composer. Of course, out of respect, i will play it as my teacher wants.

Then I should point out that teachers are even more different than you might think. You see, if I show a student several possible ways of doing something, I am disappointed if the student chooses my way just because it is my way. I want the student to try ALL possibilities, then come to an independent decision. The more advanced the student, the more important this is. But I even give such choices to rather young students who have not played long.

Fingering is not a science. It is an art. I remember talking to Steven (Sotto Voce) about fingerings in two Chopin editions. As I remember, he very much likes Joseffy's fingerings. I don't. From that I could conclude that he has chosen something inferior, while I have made wiser choices. Or vice versa.

In fact, I suspect we have different hands. We all choose fingerings that feel comfortable to us, and while many are so standard that they work for almost everyone, others are very peculiar to hand size, shape of fingers, many other factors.

TO ALL:

I have to say, with some anger, that I am really disgusted to the max with the way people come here and make judgments about students, or teachers, or both, with almost NO facts. Maybe the student is stubborn and unreasonable. Maybe the teacher is a dictator. Maybe the teacher is very nice, the student is a potentially good student, and a "fit" has not yet been established.

I personally would let most fingerings chosen in a manner that seem second-best to me "go". I have more fingering than most editors in my own music, but when my young students (or beginners) are paying too much attention to fingering and are not reading intervals well enough, I actually suggest that they "let the fingering go right out the window" and just get the notes.

For my students this is temporary. In almost every case a problem using fingerings I suggest is a reading problem, not a problem following directions. Or a coordination problem. Or both. As my students become better readers, they usually automatically choose to follow my fingering suggestions more and more. That said, some experimentation is necessary at every stage of development, because how else will students eventually learn to finger their own music?

It certainly would be nice to see people focus more on problems, how to solve them, while making fewer assumptions about the character of the people who are reporting problems, or struggling with them.


Edited by Gary D. (08/26/09 02:22 AM)
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#1256247 - 08/26/09 02:26 AM Re: Stubborn young student.. [Re: sotto voce]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
It's not possible to say what the optimal fingering is for any sequence of notes without knowing what comes before it and what follows it.

I think perhaps that's so obvious that it's taken for granted by most, but it's still worth pointing out. It just cannot be said that 1-3-1-3-5 is correct or fine or best without taking into account the context; the same is true for 2-4-2-4-5, and, for that matter, for 1-2-1-2-3, which might be the most efficient in some circumstances.

So simple. Is shouldn't have to be said, should it?

But I'm afraid you will have to repeat that EVERY TIME you make a point about ANY fingering.

And again, that's why fingering is an art, not a science. smile
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