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#1259292 - 08/30/09 09:41 PM how to motivate my son to practice?
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
I’m not a teacher but I’d be grateful for some insight from those of you who are.

My son (8) has been taking lessons for just over a year and is doing pretty well (he's just started level 1 RCM). He has a great memory, learns fast and has decent relative pitch. He's also pretty fearless and plays well in the little recitals his music school puts on every 6 months. I'm really thrilled with this.

But it's often tough. Getting him to practice is frequently a struggle and, from what he says, he seems to really find it to be drudgery. Mind you, he says the same thing about homework (non-negotiable) and has a generally operatic way of expressing himself. I don’t want to force him to keep going if he truly doesn’t like doing it – I remember kids who hated piano lessons when I was a kid myself (I loved the lessons and practicing from day one). I’m worried that I’m going to make him hate music or hate me or whatever.

Does anyone else out there have a good kid who does well at music but who acts like s/he hates it? Thoughts on how to keep this going and hopefully introduce a little more happiness into the process?
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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#1259342 - 08/30/09 10:59 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5602
Loc: Orange County, CA
At the risk of bribery, you might want to set up a rewards system. Keep the rewards small but tangible. Something like "good marks on the exam equal a trip to the movies" works for little kids. Some parents do this for school grades, anyway.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1259345 - 08/30/09 11:05 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Why don't you do some reading up on practice ideas.

Philip Johnstone has an impressive web site with his motivating books as the feature. He does a lot of sharing of imaginative ideas that work and that kids find imaginative and fun.

www.practiceopedia

For parental reading Dr. Martha Beth Lewis has copious responses to questions from parents with similar questions.

www.marthabethlewis

The best motivation comes from within, so if you can instill his excitement about finding practice ideas that really work, you'll have a winning combination. Practice by itself, meaning only repetition, is not enough. Something has to be placed in thought and examined in each passing before it is ready to be repeated. Things don't get better simply by repeating, but they do become more permanent. Important to stress that input will equal output.

I think with some carefully chosen ideas from Phillip Johnstone's work, and support to you, the parent from Martha Beth Lewis, you will both be a lot happier with the outcome.

I always say to my students, adult and child alike, "Don't quit before the miracle". At some point, all efforts and time spent at the piano add up and the student is launched to a playing level that is very enjoyable and sustaining. One part of the success is that the student has gained a productive attitude to what practice is and how to achieve the desired outcome.

It's about effectiveness and efficiency, actually.

Rather than to assign a certain amount of time at practice, I like to assign a certain amount of repetitions within the piece to prepare it (practice areas) and then when the "under construction" approach is completed, the piece gets practice in sections repeatedly for further polish. Then the piece get played entirely for first for interpretation, for memorization and then for performance.

Having a purpose for each practice is something that helps the student work through the music with new understanding and pride in the development and finished product so that something that is a lot of time and effort going into it, looks amazingly simple when played well.

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#1259368 - 08/30/09 11:54 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4841
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I've told this story several times already at PW but it might be relevant to your query. When I was 10 my parents asked me if I wanted piano lessons and I immediately said yes. Their budget was very tight so they laid down just one condition: If they ever had to ask me to practice, the lessons would stop immediately. They never had to ask and to this day, 48 years later, I still love to practice. I think it was because it was all on my shoulders; I had to be self motivating and was therefore playing only for myself.

I don't know if this would work for your son, but it's a thought.
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Deborah

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#1259373 - 08/31/09 12:06 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jnod

Does anyone else out there have a good kid who does well at music but who acts like s/he hates it? Thoughts on how to keep this going and hopefully introduce a little more happiness into the process?

I have never been successful at figuring out a way to get a student who hates piano not to hate it. And frankly, I've never tried. If your kid was just apathetic, I'd have a different reaction. On the ropes, or on the fence. That can be made better, in some cases. But when there is hate or strong dislike, I just don't think it works.
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#1259452 - 08/31/09 05:17 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Well, I'm not a parent but I do teach a lot of kids who sound just like your son.

I think that what you are experiencing is quite normal. It IS tough! And things are very different from when most of us were kids. There are far more 'fun' things that they would rather do nowadays than piano practice.

From what I see the kids who do best are the ones who have a regular practice routine. It's funny that you say homework is 'non-negotiable', does the same apply to piano practice? If not, then it should. Set aside a regular time each day and stick to it as best you can. Try dividing the time up between various activities and your son should find that time will fly. I find that three sections works quite well. The first is for technical work like scales and exercises, the second for learning new notes and sight reading and the third for playing pieces they already know. It's no big deal to spend 10-15 minutes on each section, even for an 8 year old. Kids like routine and if you stick it out with the 'non negatiable' attitude then he will fall into line. Don't go down the bribary route because he will continue to expect bigger and better rewards and it shouldn't be about that. I have seen that ruin quite a few students.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1259465 - 08/31/09 06:43 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
That was fast! And also very helpful - thanks very much all of you. To reply to Gary D, I think you are on the money and this is my biggest worry. However, my gut says that if my son truly hated piano then he would not be doing so well. He also shows every sign of actually liking music - he hums and sings to himself when no one is around for example.

The reward/bribery thing is obviously contentious. I guess I prefer to think of this kind of thing as delayed gratification. That is, if he does a decent practice then he can watch a little more TV or whatever.

THe idea of making practices mandatory is, I think, not likely to work all that well, at least at this time. He usually practices 15-30 minutes on most days but sometimes it's just not on. While homework is usually just work, making music requires at least a modicum of inspiration and sometimes it just doesn't happen. If he puts in 5-6 decent practices a week in addition to his lesson then I think I'm satisfied.

I like the idea of assigning specific purposes to individual practice sessions - creates a weekly cycle between lessons.

Anyway, I'll think this all over and do some reading. Thanks for your thoughts on this.
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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#1259518 - 08/31/09 09:46 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I second what Chris said about making it a routine. I usually start my students off who are having trouble with the idea that they should sit at the piano every day, even if it's for 5 minutes. That's better than no minutes! And what would a student do if they only intended to sit for 5 minutes? Most likely something not that involved like a piece, so they will probably do their scales, which is great. I encourage them to only work on trouble measures which I clearly outline, so that when they only have that short time to practice, they go right to the hard stuff.

Once they get into the habit of sitting at the piano every day, then we work on getting most of those days up to the amount of time needed to get through each part of their assignment. Yes, I'm usually talking time, but during the lesson and in their assignment books I discuss in detail what should be worked on, so it's not simple repetition. Perhaps your son is bored because he's only repeating rather than "working". Practicing can be fun and creative. He can play music the "wrong" way on purpose (forte instead of piano, backwards, all the notes in a measure at once, etc.), and these tools actually help him progress faster than plain repetition.

It doens't sound to me like your son hates piano, but he just hates practice. I hated practice as a child, too, because I didn't quite understand what to do. I also had a terrible time reading (I had trouble reading words as well) and so practicing pieces that I hadn't memorized yet was very difficult. Talk with your son's teacher about this and perhaps sit in on a lesson or two to see what he should be doing when he's practicing, and then encourage him to do that. He will find it much more interesting.
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#1259533 - 08/31/09 10:11 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Morodiene]
Hugh Sung Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/06
Posts: 438
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
One approach I'm surprised doesn't get mentioned begins with a simple question: "What would you like to play?"

I had some students over the summer who responded with requests to play video game music and stuff by Coldplay. Turns out these pieces were fantastic exercises in complex rhythm and technique studies! And the sheer glow of excitement that comes over a student's face when they hear something they love and recognize played on the piano right in front of them is absolutely priceless.

My 2nd son had been begging to learn to play "Star Wars", and when we started working on a decent-sounding arrangement together, he couldn't stop practicing it over and over. In fact, he was spending more time nagging me to teach him the next parts!

In this day and age of unprecedented information accessibility, I wonder if a major shift in piano pedagogy isn't due - something that doesn't rely on a primer, fixed "method" per se, but one that is much more modular and creative, adapted to teach what students really want to learn. When I want to learn how to put a website together, I can piece together what I need to learn from various tutorials on the web instead of having to invest 4 years as a computer science major. Perfect for getting a specific task done, and if the motivation to do more with web design so pushes me, then I can consider a more serious course of study. I think music pedagogy needs to take a closer look at these new models of learning more seriously.

To that end, I started posting some of these "Star Wars" lessons modeled after the way I helped my son - you can find the PianoWorld discussion thread here:
PW Star Wars from Scratch Thread

And you can see the overview lesson here:



Try asking your son if he could play anything regardless of how hard it was, what would he want to play? What are his favorite pieces of music? Draw from his interests in games, TV shows, movies, Holiday songs, etc. I'd love to hear what he chooses!
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#1259602 - 08/31/09 12:11 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Hugh Sung]
Mr. Peabody Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 120
Loc: Philly suburbs, Pennsylvania
I'm just a parent of sons who have been taking piano lessons for the last 6 years (they started at 6 and are now 12 years old). Practice was handled as a matter of fact way of life and part of a basic routine (In the morning, you have to wash your face, you have to brush your teeth, you have eat breakfast, you have to practice piano...). A friend of ours whose parent is a music teacher stressed the importance of routine and being rather matter of fact about it. At least for our boys, this has helped. Now, they don't always practice with purpose and just sort of go on autopilot but I think that part of that is just the general maturity (or immaturity level) of little boys. So, sometimes it is more about constant reminders rather than any sort of struggle. Practicing piano is not exactly high on their priorities but again I think this is more about their maturity level.

Just to reemphasize what Mr. Sung has stated above about video game music. After a while, my boys started tinkering on the piano on their own to come up with versions of video game music. They pretty much worked them all out by ear and now have a set of things that they constantly play for themselves. There was one video game song that they managed to find on the internet as a music score. So, for that one song, they downloaded the sheet music (it was free) and worked out most of it on their own. This was really good because it encouraged them to read music (they have learned piano using the Suzuki method and therefore have very good memorization skills and very good ears). The video game Rock Band caused them to develop versions of a couple of pop tunes as well. They take great pride in playing these video game tunes and really impressed their friends. More recently, two of my sons have started to "compose" simple melodies of their own. While the tunes are somewhat simple and repetitive (they seem to be patterned after the video game tunes), they are creations of their own and they offer another short diversion from the drudgery of lesson practice.

Their music teacher also occasionally allows them to divert from the basic repertoire and teaches them a short jazz tune or some other piece of music that they really, really want to learn (one was "Linus and Lucy").

While all of this does not substitute for practice, these other piano activities have really made them much more enthusiastic about the piano in general.

Mr. Peabody

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#1259638 - 08/31/09 01:06 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mr. Peabody]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
My mom used to always say 'wow, that was beautiful...would you play it again for me?' For Her?
Yes, of course and many times over...anything for her.
What about a lot of encouragement. I think it works. Also adding pieces the student likes!
rada

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#1259662 - 08/31/09 01:54 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: rada]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5602
Loc: Orange County, CA
The problem with using video game music is that most of it is too difficult. WAY too difficult. And the arrangers who put the music on the web are not the most "classically trained" composers, and thus you get all these unplayable passages and awkward stretches/leaps.

This goes with movie themes, too. Remember when "Twilight" came out?

I do have a few students who want to play this kind of music, but currently they do not possess enough piano technique to manage those pieces. They do try to play those pieces on their own, but the result is predictably poor.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1259708 - 08/31/09 03:00 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mr. Peabody]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
My mom used to always say 'wow, that was beautiful...would you play it again for me?' For Her?
Yes, of course and many times over...anything for her.
What about a lot of encouragement. I think it works. Also adding pieces the student likes!
rada

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#1259717 - 08/31/09 03:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: rada]
Mr. Peabody Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 120
Loc: Philly suburbs, Pennsylvania
I guess my memory gets a bit blurred. AZNPiano is right in that my boys didn't start playing some of the video game tunes until about 2-3 years into their lessons. At about 2 years into it, their piano teacher introduced them to a simplified version of "Linus and Lucy." I remember that because their hands were much smaller, that the only way it could have been played was if one boy used both hands to play the left hand part and another son would play the melody (right hand). It was a nice diversion for them. Now that they are older, they can play it by themselves (it is still a simplified version, they don't go into the bridge).

Still, when they were just starting, just being in a routine was very helpful. Perhaps we were lucky in that we didn't have much of a struggle in the daily practicing. It was just that we had to remind them every day when to practice. We still need to remind them now that they are 12 but they don't generally argue as they are pretty used to the routine.

Any suggestions from the piano teacher?

Mr. Peabody

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#1259719 - 08/31/09 03:28 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Hugh Sung]
Jennifer Eklund Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/16/09
Posts: 162
Loc: SoCal
Bravo -- and I couldn't agree more.

Asking "what would you like to play?" makes the lesson experience more enjoyable for all parties. I think this shift has not taken place across the board because it requires a lot of extra effort on the part of the teacher. Most teachers don't teach pop music (like Coldplay) because they are typically not familiar with what kids are actually listening to. Granted, it shouldn't always be about playing whatever the student wants, but a good teacher can lead the way through a logical learning process by mixing their picks (of standard repertoire, etc.) with the students' picks.

As to the comment about video game music: I agree most of the stuff floating around on the web is transcribed in a very un-friendly way for the hands. I say arrange it down for them, it sharpens your skills as a teacher and a writer. That being said I would only arrange things that are worth arranging and may be of use for your other students as well.

Just recently (let's say the last couple years) I've noticed a *huge* upsurge in interest in playing the piano among teenagers. These kids, who are usually the demographic that we end up losing as students because of general teenage angst, are some of the most motivated students right now. I think it has a lot to do with YouTube tutorials covering just about every pop tune released on the radio. I've gotten just over the summer 4 new students who are rank beginners and all in high school. They watch these tutorials, tinker around on their own, and then decide they'd like to learn how to read and play music without these aides. It's very exciting and a testament that enjoyable repertoire will hold the interest of just about anyone who has the motivation.

~Jennifer Eklund
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#1259793 - 08/31/09 04:59 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Wow - what a helpful bunch! He's a little past the Star Wars phase but I'll give this a shot. He's got a good memory when it comes to this sort of thing - we've goofed around with it a bit - he can hum a lot of the theme music to the Harry Potter movies and I've tried to interpret this with some success.
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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#1259809 - 08/31/09 05:16 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Jennifer Eklund]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Jennifer Eklund
Bravo -- and I couldn't agree more.

Asking "what would you like to play?" makes the lesson experience more enjoyable for all parties.

I can't resist adding this: it's also good for "playing at parties". wink

Seriously, a lot of people at least want to show off at times, and if they can do this playing things they really like, it's a huge ego boost.
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Piano Teacher

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#1259836 - 08/31/09 05:41 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Piano*Dad Online   content
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: jnod
Wow - what a helpful bunch! He's a little past the Star Wars phase but I'll give this a shot. He's got a good memory when it comes to this sort of thing - we've goofed around with it a bit - he can hum a lot of the theme music to the Harry Potter movies and I've tried to interpret this with some success.


Jnod,

Glad you brought up the Potter music. Rather than humming things and working them out by ear, why don't you get the sheet music? Nothing against ear training, but reading the music is good too, and the sheet music has a well worked out harmonic structure that early students can grasp.

Movie music was one thing I used to help motivate my son, especially over the summer. Thank heavens for Klaus Badelt and the scores to Pirates of the Caribbean! Perhaps unlike video game music, movie scores seem designed for real humans to play.

Gary mentioned playing as an ego boost. And you mentioned that your son is 'fearless.' In my experience, that combination was a real motivator for my son. He has always liked playing in public, and that helped keep him focussed on steady practice. He could see the gains he was making, and his ego got invested in that progress.
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#1259844 - 08/31/09 05:49 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
John Williams music tends to be sophisticated in a way that makes it hard to play it by ear.

Some of my student's like Hedwig's Theme, for instance, and I use almost exactly what William's wrote. It works.
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Piano Teacher

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#1259913 - 08/31/09 07:51 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
The Raider's Theme is good too (Raiders of the Lost Ark), another John Williams piece.

Mary Leaf has some easy jazz and blues pieces that inspire young ones to practice more too.
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#1260101 - 09/01/09 04:22 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Stanny]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Asking what he would like to play could help and will perhaps give him some sense of ownership and responsibility for his practice. Make sure he understands that that this is not an alternative to the assignments set by his teacher. I like it when a student chooses their own music and encourage them to do so as long as they contintue to practise what I have set them. The pieces and exercises I set are progressive and appropriate to their level and are based on my experience as a teacher of what needs to be done to develop the right skills and habits. You should talk to the teacher about this.

I still think it's the routine that's the problem here. I wouldn't worry about waiting until he is inspired to practise either, you could be waiting a long time. That inspiration often comes during a practice session so just try to make sure he sits down at the piano and opens the fallboard. Help him out with what to practise and how to practise but don't give him the option of not practising. Given the choice they will always rather watch TV or play video games.

You might find this interesting.

I teach a few kids who complain about practice and their parents tell me how difficult it is to get them to sit for half an hour. Many of them are siblings and I can imagine that having more than one child learning is hard because obviously practice time is double! When they come for their lesson I often teach one whilst the other goes into the back room (where I have another piano) and gets on with some practice. They seem to have no problem doing half an hours practice followed by a half hour lesson and not one of them moans about it. I guess this is because they have got used to the routine and just expect it. So if they can do it when they come to my studio why can't they do it at home?
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1260108 - 09/01/09 04:43 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2473
Loc: France
From what you say, jnod, I ask myself if the difficulty is not your boy's motivation, but rather your own.

If you love music and piano, you only have to express that.

If it is not deeply important for you why should it be for him?

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#1260109 - 09/01/09 04:59 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Hugh Sung]
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Originally Posted By: Hugh Sung
One approach I'm surprised doesn't get mentioned begins with a simple question: "What would you like to play?"

I had some students over the summer who responded with requests to play video game music and stuff by Coldplay. Turns out these pieces were fantastic exercises in complex rhythm and technique studies!


I can't agree more. For example, Suteki da ne from Final Fantasy is a total workhorse for learning triplets. The piece has loads of them - and is so fun to play regardless!

I am not a good sample, as adults tend to have different goals than children learning piano - my lessons can be less structured than those of youngsters, I'm playing just for my pure enjoyment. I use a similar approach to what Hugh said with my teacher. We work on two or three pieces at the same time to make it more interesting. From these pieces two of them are those which I really wanted to play, and one is chosen by my teacher to nurture certain technical skills she thinks need improvement. It works well for me - I couldn't have more fun with piano.


M.
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#1260122 - 09/01/09 05:53 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: landorrano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: landorrano
From what you say, jnod, I ask myself if the difficulty is not your boy's motivation, but rather your own.

If you love music and piano, you only have to express that.

If it is not deeply important for you why should it be for him?

I agree with this and rada. The problem is practice is done alone, and with very little purpose to an 8 year old.
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#1260134 - 09/01/09 07:02 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Weird posts rada and kbk. I don't think there's anything in my posts that suggests that my son practices alone or that I don't convey my interest in or love of music to him. My concern is the opposite, that I may be imposing my interest on him while his interests lie elsewhere.
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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#1260141 - 09/01/09 07:35 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: jnod
Weird posts rada and kbk. I don't think there's anything in my posts that suggests that my son practices alone or that I don't convey my interest in or love of music to him.
There is alone and then there is alone. Are you really interested in his playing? In situ? What I mean is - do you enjoy his music making? That is, not the fact that he is making music but the actual music he is making?


Edited by keyboardklutz (09/01/09 07:58 AM)
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1260147 - 09/01/09 07:51 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
lilylady Offline
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Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4981
Loc: boston north
Justin -

Threads start off with one thing and sometimes just evolve to thoughts and suggestions that are for 'others' reading, not just the O Poster.

You have some very good advice above of which I would have stated as well, had they not been already.

Hopefully with those, he'll continue to enjoy and make music!

LL
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1260273 - 09/01/09 11:39 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: lilylady]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Yes, Hugh, of course finding out what a student enjoys is paramount! Keyboard Companion (not Clavier Companion) magazine has a section titled "Pupil Savers", and my pedagogy teacher also gave me a list of pupil saver pieces. Of course, one has to know the student and ask questions to find out what interests them. Asking them after a studio recital which piece they liked the best, noticing their practice habits on certain styles of pieces, et.c are often the best clues. Many younger students don't have formed opinions yet, but we discover them together.

The idea of video game music is a great one, and for those who may not yet be capable of playing some of the stuff in full (some of it is very difficult), helping them to learn the melody by ear is a great ear training tool and a great way to apply what they've learned in their scales (finding the key signature) and intervals. Then learning to accompany it with chords in the LH is a great way to apply what they've learned in chord progressions and harmony. Once they find the real reason why they're asked to do these things, they are more likely to practice it and enjoy it. smile
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1260287 - 09/01/09 12:03 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Morodiene]
Hugh Sung Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/06
Posts: 438
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
For anyone interested, I wrote up an article about two sites that have a wealth of Japanese Anime (cartoon) sheet music:

Anime Sheet Music Resources Online

My oldest son is a huge fan of various anime TV shows and movies - we're planning on working through a Chinese score, and then transcribe a Japanese cartoon theme song for him (no scores that I could find for "Danzai no hana" so far...)
_________________________
Hugh Sung
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#1260327 - 09/01/09 01:10 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Justin,

That's why it's important for children to have or be given a voice to express their feelings. If they can put their experience in words to share it with you, the parent and the piano teacher won't have to be guessing about anything.

If we let the child speak and not try to correct his words or make them agree with our own, we will get a valuable input that really represents the child and his needs.

One has to ask simple questions of him in a way that seems like conversation to him. If done with a smile on your face you're likely to get even more information that you asked.

One thing parents resort to is a forcing of an issue before it's time. It takes time and consideration to make changes with a piano student - a change inplemented does not always immediately make a difference. Continued observation will tell you if a new approach is working.

As far as motivation goes, the best kind comes from within the person who needs motivation to practice. He is possibly too young to see the logic that more time with the piece and working things out to be prepared works wonders with the quality of his presentation at lesson.

Every lesson, to me, needs about 3 hours of practice for intermediate students. For beginners, it's not an hourly time that gets results, it's the playing 3 - 5 times of each piece on a daily basic that brings familiarity in every way - eyes know what's on the page, fingers feel their work being done, the ears hear the rhythm, tempo, and the sound. The mind and body need the exercise of coordinating all the tasks in the music together until they are very familiar and doable. Time and effort are the main ingredients.

Try praise with him for the things you think he is doing well, try encouragement for things that need more attention. Try not to be over his shoulder with your comments. Smile, look directly in his eyes, speak conversationally. Ask questions. Give him hugs, shake his hand, give high 5's. Listen to the verbs he uses about piano lessons or practice, hear his adjectives. Make a list of them for about 2 weeks to a month. Look for clues that he gives. Try to put yourself into his position from where he is today, where he was when he started, and where he hope to go.

There are so many more things to be said, but this is enough for now. The long term goal here would be to keep him from quitting by understanding his needs and making sucess in his lessons possible as well as some degree of fun or satisfaction. Another long term goal would be that his practice ethics improve because he has found some things that work to his benefit, he understands the reasons for practice, and he can agree that practice is essential to him.

Practice is an ugly word - "making music" - "playing your piano" - anything that identifies it positively for you and he would be a good substitute work. Practice - has the word "act" in it have you noticed. Maybe you would convince him that the pr stands for "prepared". (Prepared action).

Betty Patnude

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