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#1257299 - 08/27/09 03:32 PM Parents and Practicing
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
I often hear from parents that they don't want to force their child to practice because they want music to be something they love, and they're afraid by forcing it, they'll squash any natural affection that could have arisen.

I say - that philosophy will get you no where parents!

I was forced to eat vegetables. I happen to like them now.
I was forced to brush my teeth. I have an affection for my denture-free smile.
I was forced to do homework. I have a love for learning.
I was forced to go to sleep. I look forward to bedtime now.
I was forced to be kind to those I lived with. I enjoy being kind to my roommate-husband.

etc.
etc.
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#1257306 - 08/27/09 03:41 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: MrsCamels]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I was able to coax, persuade, induce, and give appropriate incentives to my oldest, who developed decent practice habits, and a tolerance for long hours.

I am unable to do most of these things with my youngest. He reacts very differently to me.

Beware of quick generalizations about parents and their influence. Therein lies the road to madness. smile

Never underestimate the impact of hard-wired personality differences between children, even children of the same family.
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#1257314 - 08/27/09 03:47 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Piano*Dad]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Yes and there are also differences between those "you can lead to water" and "those you can't make drink."

It seems sometimes the kids who sit down at the piano of their own will don't necessarily have the a very efficient practice approach while those who can work fairly efficiently are sometimes the most difficult to just get to sit down and get started.

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#1257318 - 08/27/09 03:51 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Piano*Dad]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Gotta agree with PD here. For every MrsCamel's positive stories, I've heard horror stories about kids who were forced to play musical instruments as children and immediately giving them up once old enough and genuinely growing to resent a) their parents for forcing the activity upon them b) the parts of their childhood that they perceived as being "lost" due to practicing and c) the instrument itself.

Plus "force the kid to practice" is a pretty broad statement. I know parents for whom that means _any_ practice. For others that can mean anywhere from 3 hours a week to 14 hours a week. Obviously there can be varying degrees and therefore the students response can also vary. My son deals relatively well with about 4-6 hours of practice a week, however getting him up to the 6-8 hour levels of our daughter would not be a pretty sight, nor would it, IMHO, actually benefit him.

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#1257321 - 08/27/09 03:55 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: bitWrangler]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I started playing saxophone at age 7. Gave it up at age 13. Wasn't forced at all. Played guitar from 14 to present. Wasn't forced. Started piano at age 30 something. Now teach it to students all over the world.

Would I have done this if forced? Probably not. Nature or nurture? Who knows. All I know is if my parents forced me into music, I'd probably hate them for it and none of the above would have occured.

I'm not saying parents shouldn't encourage children towards music. But force? Nah! Not unless they want good little conformists who only do it to please parents.
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#1257327 - 08/27/09 04:08 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: MrsCamels]
Mr. Peabody Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 120
Loc: Philly suburbs, Pennsylvania
I'm a parent. When my boys started they were only six years old. We made practicing the piano as simply a part of the regular daily routine, much as brushing your teeth, etc. It wasn't forcing in the sense that we were just very matter of fact about it ("Okay, time to practice."). And we were very consistent (and no more persistent about practicing piano compared to all the other daily reminders that they needed). They are now 12 years old and they still need prompting to practice (of course they would rather do other things). We still keep the same matter of fact tone about it and they have been very good to just practice without any protest or grumbling. At this age, I think that it is more that practicing piano is something that is mostly out of mind; they just need reminders. Another thing to remind them is to practice with purpose rather than just racing through it. So, when we are able to overhear them practice, we may have to say "Slow down, play it the right way." Again, it is probably a function of their age.

They do enjoy just tinkering with the piano on their own, meaning they'll try to play some music that they overhear (usually from one of their video games). So, they do clearly like to play and their love of playing the piano wasn't squashed by our reminders to them to practice their lesson pieces. It is just that the lesson pieces are often much more challenging to play (for example, they are now working on "Gigue" by Bach and the fact that their left hand bounces back and forth over their right hand is not initially easy for them) and can be somewhat frustrating to master. But we constantly try to keep encouraging them to stick with it and remind them that not all things come easily. They generally understand this from their own experiences and observations over the past 6 years of piano lessons and they are typically fairly confident that they will eventually master the lesson pieces of the moment.

This is just one parent's experience. The process of learning the piano has proven to have many benefits beyond just learning music. For our boys, the lessons and practicing offers positive examples of what happens when you are disciplined and responsible. It has shown that instant gratification doesn't always happen and that the ultimate result comes from what you put into it. They also had to learn to deal with performance anxiety in recitals and are now much more confident about being in front of people.

Mr. Peabody

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#1257338 - 08/27/09 04:23 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Mr. Peabody]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I'm certain their teacher really, really, really appreciates the parental support you are providing! Thanks from all of us.
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#1257340 - 08/27/09 04:26 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Mr. Peabody]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
So, when we are able to overhear them practice, we may have to say "Slow down, play it the right way." Again, it is probably a function of their age.


Ah, well, sixteen year olds sometimes need a similar treatment. smile
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#1257353 - 08/27/09 04:51 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Piano*Dad]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
My parents used to say, "Do as I say, not as I do"!

But my dad always enjoyed practicing the piano, and he practiced a lot! Sometimes into the early morning, because he was in a band, and more often than not, the band was in our livingroom too, drummer and all! Good thing I liked what they were playing! smile But he didn't realize that his love of practice was motivation for me!
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#1257382 - 08/27/09 05:44 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: theJourney]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Yes and there are also differences between those "you can lead to water" and "those you can't make drink."

It seems sometimes the kids who sit down at the piano of their own will don't necessarily have the a very efficient practice approach while those who can work fairly efficiently are sometimes the most difficult to just get to sit down and get started.


And those who, after you have lead them to water, will hold your HEAD under water until you drown, then laugh. laugh
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#1257399 - 08/27/09 06:28 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Diane...]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
It drives me crazy when parents of young children say their kids won't practice and "I can't make them!" I always want to ask if they've been successful at keeping their kids from playing in traffic.

But as parent of 3 musicians, I know also that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. All of my 3 loved their "other" instrument, but had to be coerced into practicing piano. My kids didn't get an allowance; instead, we had a bowl of quarters on the piano, and they paid themselves for each fifteen minutes. (Price has probably gone up!) It was self-policed, but motivating, as bribes often are! I've had several parents of students adopt this with some success.

We had other rules, too. No "screens" (TV, computer, video games) till homework and practice were done. I think treating practice as a responsibility/expectation like school work makes sense.

My other rule - counter to what some might feel - is to NOT colorfully commentate on the practice - or at least try not to. My kids work harder if they don't feel like they are being constantly audited. There is nothing worse than trying to woodshed the fingering and have someone from another room criticize your timing!
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#1257411 - 08/27/09 06:47 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Lollipop]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
It drives me crazy when parents of young children say their kids won't practice and "I can't make them!"

My response to that is simply: "My job is to teach. Not to be a policeman or warden."

I actually hear parents arguing with their children about what they really did and didn't do. Then the parents turn to me, as if it is my job to settle the problem. I turn it right back on them. "I don't live in your home. You'll have to work it out, then tell me what the answer is…"

I say again and again that my job is to work with what I have to work with, based on what was done at home. Some parents get that immediately and make sure that we are always on the same page. Some seem to understand but don't know how to come to a reasonable agreement with their own children, and until that problem is resolved, very little happens in lessons.

Some parents will always drop off the kids and figure that it all happens by magic. No conversations, no coopearation, no feedback. Their children are the ones who quit eventually, but I often end the lessons myself. It's such an energy drain.
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#1257420 - 08/27/09 07:02 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Gary D.]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
One thought here, is that make sure your kids really really really want to PLAY the piano! Then make them learn it come hell or high water!

Heaven forbid that my parents would have made me play the BAGPIPES! . . . KILL ME NOW! smile
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1257427 - 08/27/09 07:16 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Diane...]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Absolutely.

If a kid doesn't want to play piano, if he or she has no interest before starting and continues to have no interest, it seems to me that it is a simple matter of "the wrong thing for the wrong person".

The only time I "push" is when a student obviously wants to play but wants to accomplish that with no work. This is often a part of a much larger problem: kids being allowed to start anything they want, then quit the moment there is some work involved. That sets up a pattern of failure. However, there is only a chance to teach a bit about responsiblity, commitment and goals if the parents are onboard.

I don't believe in pushing kids to do things they really don't want to do when there is not an obvious reason for it, and I seldom see practical reasons for learning the piano with such obvious payoffs as higher grades, better chance in getting into a good school, scholarships, and so forth. The desire has to be there. We only have a little "wiggle-room" to help provide an atmosphere in which that desire can accomplish something.
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#1257467 - 08/27/09 08:43 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Gary D.]
Little_Blue_Engine Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Ohio, US
I asked my younger son if he wanted piano lessons and he said yes so I told him that he would have to practice and it would be kind of like having "piano homework". I'm going to start him a little myself because I'm not sure we can afford lessons right now, but if we come up with the money and send him he WILL practice. Paying for your child to take lessons and not making sure they practice is a waste of money.
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#1257473 - 08/27/09 08:49 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Gary D.]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
The only time I "push" is when a student obviously wants to play but wants to accomplish that with no work. This is often a part of a much larger problem: kids being allowed to start anything they want, then quit the moment there is some work involved.


It can also be a symptom of a very gifted kid who usually picks things up without trying and doesn't know what to do if effort is involved or who fears failure because they feel it's out of their control. Ask me how I know. :-/ There's a belief in modern education that people who are good at something have a natural knack for it, and if you don't have that knack, there's nothing you can do about it. You're either "good at math" or "good at art," or you aren't. There's very little awareness that everyone will get better at something with practice.

And there's very little awareness among gifted kids that they aren't fakers if they fail at something for the first time, nor what to do if a bright, intuitive guess doesn't work. Sometimes the brightest kids have the worst study habits because, to be honest, they've never had to before. The right answer or technique will pop up to them, and if it doesn't, they have no clue how to chug through to the answer. And most musical practice consists of "chugging through," because no matter how gifted you are, your hands are physical objects that must be trained, period.
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#1260011 - 08/31/09 11:28 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: J Cortese]
Cathy Shefski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 16
Loc: NE Pennsylvania
Here's an interesting article about practicing. The author talks about how a real passion for the activity is necessary for success. He uses Tiger Woods as an example... his parents made him get his homework done before he was allowed to play golf. Golf was the reward. I only have a few students who's parents tell me they secretly wish their children would give their practicing a rest sometimes... LOL !!

I also have become a firm believer in small chunks of practice. 15 minutes a day 3 times a day is what I tell my younger students. It works...

Here's the article (it's long, but interesting)

http://tinyurl.com/l5f3p6

Catherine Shefski
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#1260015 - 08/31/09 11:45 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: J Cortese]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
The only time I "push" is when a student obviously wants to play but wants to accomplish that with no work. This is often a part of a much larger problem: kids being allowed to start anything they want, then quit the moment there is some work involved.


Originally Posted By: J Cortese
It can also be a symptom of a very gifted kid who usually picks things up without trying and doesn't know what to do if effort is involved or who fears failure because they feel it's out of their control. Ask me how I know. :-/

Explain, though I was not talking about such people.
Quote:

There's a belief in modern education that people who are good at something have a natural knack for it, and if you don't have that knack, there's nothing you can do about it.

That's not modern. That idea was around when I was young and probably was around when my grandparents were young. Modern or not, it's wrong.

One of the sad parts about teaching music is that people come to lessons believing that "talent", which can't even be defined, is the biggest factor. Reading music is made into something "magic", while the ability to read language is simply considered normal.
Quote:

You're either "good at math" or "good at art," or you aren't. There's very little awareness that everyone will get better at something with practice.

It's worse than that. There is also the assumption that if the method of teaching does not connect with a student, that means the student can't learn with any method.

Ask me know how *I* know that. smile
Quote:

And there's very little awareness among gifted kids that they aren't fakers if they fail at something for the first time, nor what to do if a bright, intuitive guess doesn't work. Sometimes the brightest kids have the worst study habits because, to be honest, they've never had to before. The right answer or technique will pop up to them, and if it doesn't, they have no clue how to chug through to the answer. And most musical practice consists of "chugging through," because no matter how gifted you are, your hands are physical objects that must be trained, period.

I think this is a particular kind of "being bright", and unfortunately I think that some of the quickest kids are the first ones to adopt cramming as the most effective way to learn. The way "bright kids" get over this is by being around equally bright kids who work hard. When put in such a group, those who coast fail.
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#1260113 - 09/01/09 05:28 AM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Gary D.]
musicteacher541 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 11
Loc: Murray, UT 84123
I have experienced teaching so many unmotivated students who have just been forced by their parents to join my piano class. After some time, most of these students learn to appreciate music and develop interests in pursuing advanced piano lessons. I think it also depends on a piano teacher's skill in motivating the students.
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#1260119 - 09/01/09 05:41 AM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: musicteacher541]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
As a parent with a 7 year old, I did not in any way, shape or form force her to start learning the piano, or even suggest to her that she might want to learn it. I waited till she came to me and asked if she could learn how to play.

However, as soon as she did that, I explained to her that it meant she would have to work really hard at learning the piano as it is not easy, and it would involve her doing regular daily practice, no excuses.

She agreed and with very few exceptions (not of her making I hasten to add) she does her practice, is really enjoying learning and is making really good progress.
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#1261153 - 09/02/09 03:46 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: musicteacher541]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: musicteacher541
I have experienced teaching so many unmotivated students who have just been forced by their parents to join my piano class. After some time, most of these students learn to appreciate music and develop interests in pursuing advanced piano lessons. I think it also depends on a piano teacher's skill in motivating the students.


As a piano teacher, I am a musician, not a magician. Sometimes it is not possible to motivate students. Example: one student of mine is 13 years old and has been forced to take piano lessons and practice one hour per day since he was age 7. I am teacher #6 for him. His mom BEGS me over and over to PLEASE not give up on her son. I met with her yesterday, just the 2 of us. She brought me a huge stack of music to look through, to see what we could possibly do to find music that her son will want to play. It's becoming impossible for me as his teacher. My curriculum does not work for him, because he refuses to do it, with the exception of a piece here and there. He does not like the piano and never has. His mom makes him play and take lessons because he has no other interests. It is very hard on me as his teacher and I'm about ready to throw in the towel. O.K., so some of you might say I am lacking the skills necessary to motivate this student. Perhaps you are right. I would love to observe you working with this student.
And of course we have looked at music of many genres, including jazz, pop, rock, Broadway, classical, on and on.


Edited by Barb860 (09/02/09 03:48 PM)
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#1261225 - 09/02/09 05:37 PM Re: Parents and Practicing [Re: Barb860]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
No once can motivate everyone.

I might be able to work with the boy you are having so much trouble, but chances are you could work better with at least one student that *I* have problems working with.

Or it is possible that I could not work at all with your student, not even as well as you've done. wink
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