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#1260487 - 09/01/09 05:38 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4978
Loc: boston north
"Practice is an ugly word - "making music" - "playing your piano" - anything that identifies it positively for you and he would be a good substitute wor'd'."


Those substitutions might be a good start.

However before you all jump on us...we know that practice should become a good word!!!
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"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1260548 - 09/01/09 07:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: lilylady]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
So I really like a lot of these ideas – very helpful. I love the idea of making the music kids play interesting, exciting and fun. Why not? The anime thing is pure genius!

But I'm not sure I buy the idea that practicing isn't practicing. One of the glorious things about children is their capacity to see through the subterfuge of their parents and adults generally ("Mmmmmmmm, this broccoli is dee-lish-ous!!” Picture rolling eyes).

My feeling is that it makes more sense to recognize that practicing is basically work. It's rewarding, it can be fun and making music is among the greatest ways to use your time. It’s not work in the sense that taking the trash out or paying your taxes is work. But it is work - sometimes hard work. It can tire you out. Sometimes you just aren't in the zone and can't get it right. It's fair to go at it hard some days and take it a little easier on others. Maybe since you figured out your first melodic minor yesterday we’ll just to a few simple majors today.

This just seems more honest to me and I think most kids can tell honest from…well… the sort of propagandistic stuff we tell them to get them to eat their greens and do their spelling. Another virtue of this is that the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something well is greater. Mastering something that is difficult should be rewarded and recognized.

Playing devil's advocate to some extent but I'm curious to hear people's reaction to this.
_________________________
Justin
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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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#1260559 - 09/01/09 07:36 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4978
Loc: boston north
Originally Posted By: jnod
But I'm not sure I buy the idea that practicing isn't practicing.... I think most kids can tell honest from…well… the sort of propagandistic stuff we tell them to get them to eat their greens and do their spelling....
Playing devil's advocate to some extent but I'm curious to hear people's reaction to this.



My reaction is that two of us just agreed on an idea, but you have rejected it...

You came here asking for ideas.

Oh well...So it goes...

That is your perogative but you will not see me offering any more suggestions to you. I don't have an argument in this discussion.

It had nothing to do with being dishonest, BTW.

And you have many other ideas from other posters.
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"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1260627 - 09/01/09 08:51 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jnod

But I'm not sure I buy the idea that practicing isn't practicing. One of the glorious things about children is their capacity to see through the subterfuge of their parents and adults generally ("Mmmmmmmm, this broccoli is dee-lish-ous!!” Picture rolling eyes).

My view: practicing, whatever we call it, can also be playing. And playing can be play. I tend to agree with you. I don't like playing with semantics. I want my students to experience practicing as something that makes them feel good because they are accomplishing something, and that "something" makes them feel good about themselves.

I point out, quite often, that work can also be fun, if it is the right kind of work, something that interests us, or it can pure agony when we hate what we are doing for work.

And since you mentioned brocolli, I'd say what makes the difference is not saying it is good but finding a way to cook it that makes it taste good. smile
Quote:

My feeling is that it makes more sense to recognize that practicing is basically work. It's rewarding, it can be fun and making music is among the greatest ways to use your time. It’s not work in the sense that taking the trash out or paying your taxes is work.

Actually, when done the wrong way, it is every bit like taking out the trash or paying taxes.
Quote:

But it is work - sometimes hard work. It can tire you out. Sometimes you just aren't in the zone and can't get it right. It's fair to go at it hard some days and take it a little easier on others. Maybe since you figured out your first melodic minor yesterday we’ll just to a few simple majors today.

Hard work can be intense fun. However, when that happens, people do not perceive what they are doing as work.
Quote:

This just seems more honest to me and I think most kids can tell honest from…well… the sort of propagandistic stuff we tell them to get them to eat their greens and do their spelling. Another virtue of this is that the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something well is greater. Mastering something that is difficult should be rewarded and recognized.

But I get no sense of pleasure out of mastering something difficult if it is something I must do but would never, in a million years, choose to do unless I had to. I believe the real reward is a feeling of enjoyment, of some kind, and if it only happens later, if it remains a matter of totally delayed gratification (and gratification that may or my not happen).


Edited by Gary D. (09/01/09 08:52 PM)
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#1260634 - 09/01/09 08:58 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Thanks Gary D - well put.

And also, I seem to have offended Lilylady (and possibly others). This really was not my intent! Sorry if this is the case!
_________________________
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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#1260699 - 09/01/09 10:28 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10386
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
jnod,

I have never shied away from using the word 'practice.' My son didn't just 'play' at playing the piano. From his first time on the bench, the word practice was part of the vocabulary. We didn't endow the word with any negative connotations. Quite to the contrary, in fact. In school, many kids see the uselessness of repetitive worksheets pounding home the same basic facts and techniques long after repetition yields any meaningful benefit. But practicing the piano generated continual improvement in basic skill and technique. If the child can see and feel the benefit then there is no particular need to play a semantic game or to pretend that piano is like homework. Heck, it's better than homework given that most homework tends to be geared toward the lowest levels of understanding.

For young ones, I think there has to be a good sized goal in the distance, and there must be meaningful intermediate steps that can be conquered sequentially. The kid needs to buy in to the goals and they need to get a kick out of mastering the steps. Finding what motivates the child is really important. If they are extraverted and gain real pleasure from how others perceive them, that's one thing. My oldest fit this pattern when he was younger. If they are intensely self-directed and tend to be impervious to what others think, that's another thing entirely.
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#1260706 - 09/01/09 10:36 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
Justin,

You are an adult and you have formed your opinions all of your life based on your experience and your way of projecting outcomes.

Believe me, a child will do better at music lessons if we can engage him in playful and pleasant music making experiences.

I, of course, believe in the work ethic, I use it in my teaching, however I get the student's cooperation to meet thier practice, time, effort, work, task requirement by not forcing these words down their throats as something they have to do. I want them to want to do them because they get results, make you feel good, confident, bright, alert, happy, ready for more progress.

It's unfortunate that so many of these words which describe what we do seem so old hat. I'm 66 and talk like a 66 year old, but I've had 38 years of teaching experience. I've had to reframe these words to meet these kids potential, promise, future, and not to turn them off. Words become archaic over time. Words that mean a lot to us aren't going to mean a thing to younger people.

I'm all for pursuit of excellence, but not perfection. I'm all for high standards. I'm not saying we have to dumb down the materials and make everything fun. I'm saying some words and the way we have pursued music study in the past are obstacles to the kids of today. Actually, they've been passe for a long time, the new word seems to be "enjoyment" oriented. Wouldn't that be the best motivator to do what we have to do to make the brain and body connections to be able to make music in the first place?

I detect from what you have left off of the place of suggestions made, that you might be fully engrained in the "old school". You'll never convince your child to play piano from that point of view. Also, the child should pretty much be allowed to behave naturally with his own responses coming to light for the teacher to notice and work with. Having an oppositional parent at home is worse than having no parent support.

Have you spoken with the teacher about what you are posting here? That would be a good step if you would level with her about your concerns.

Let the little guy be for a while and see what he is able to produce on his own. And, why don't you take some lessons too so that you can feel the pressure of being on the bench for a lesson and then to practice up for the next lesson. I wonder if you would become more enlightened very quickly about being a piano student. It would give you a place to put some of your theories about what should be happening.

Let his piano teacher be his guide in the interim. He is young and the teaching-learning situation in young, too.

What you are calling propaganda is simply effective communication with today's children. Paced for a child, spoken to a child's experience and vocabulary. Suitable for capturing their attention to make it possible to put all the difficult things they will be doing into their musical future. We can't teach a student without their interest and cooperation. Rebellion sets in at some point if we don't make it easy for them to get on board in the first place.

Carrying a big stick doesn't help - although I was asking for a whistle, and the little league coaches influence recently - it doesn't work. I came at lessons in my beginning teaching years with my authoratative and self-disciplined voice - the voices that had been my teachers. When the "San Fernando Valley Girls" speech came on the scene, I realized all kinds of new words had come on the scene and I didn't know what any of them meant. I was speaking old hat. Not that I learned or used VG language, but it was eye-opening.

Step by step in teaching I try to "Keep it Simple" with just "enough" said for the students to get each piece off to a good start. If they can play through the music at lesson, they will practice. If teachers assign music that is not played first at the lesson, students are going to hate to admit that they don't understand the assignment and are having trouble with it. This is the start of excuse making and bugging out.

Your son has a great brain I'm sure. Give him the opportunity to use it and be accountable to himself and his piano teacher.

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#1260721 - 09/01/09 10:57 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Cathy Shefski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 16
Loc: NE Pennsylvania
This is a very interesting discussion. I agree with Hugh that there is a shift about to happen with traditional piano lessons. I've been teaching for 30 years and for the first time I have students speaking up for themselves about what they want to learn and how they want to spend their lesson time. And it's not all about pop music. I have had students working on all-Chopin programs, or all-Baroque. One girl right now is hooked on anything resembling a Spanish dance. Others are learning Coldplay, Eric Clapton, songs from musicals, jazz, etc.

The only thing I insist on any more in a typical lesson is that the students become proficient sight readers and that they work on finger technique with arm weight, scales and cadences. As far as repertoire goes, I give the kids free rein to choose what they want to learn. I'm enjoying the lessons more than ever, and my students are progressing nicely.

On another note, I have a similar situation with my daughter. She's 14 and has been studying violin with an excellent teacher for about 4 years. She has a natural talent and he has suggested that she should be practicing at least 2 hours a day. There's also been talk about majoring in music.

My daughter only practices a total of about 30 minutes a week, culminating with a wonderful one hour lesson every Wednesday. But when I talk to her about it... her response is "But I don't want to be really good because I don't want to have to go into music." So she's satisfied with being better than most but not first chair. (On the other hand she spends hours drawing and writing.)

In my opinion, we have to give these kids more credit for knowing themselves better than we think they do.
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#1260793 - 09/02/09 01:40 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Cathy Shefski]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Cathy Shefski
This is a very interesting discussion. I agree with Hugh that there is a shift about to happen with traditional piano lessons. I've been teaching for 30 years and for the first time I have students speaking up for themselves about what they want to learn and how they want to spend their lesson time. And it's not all about pop music. I have had students working on all-Chopin programs, or all-Baroque. One girl right now is hooked on anything resembling a Spanish dance. Others are learning Coldplay, Eric Clapton, songs from musicals, jazz, etc.

Why do you think your students are changing so much?

I was like that in the 1950s and 1960s, so it can't only be about what is happening now. And because of the way I learned, and the way I think about music, it seems my students have always had very definite ideas about what they wanted to play.

Perhaps it is mostly about taking the time to find out what they really want. Sometimes I think we, as teachers, change more than they do, and perhaps the way we change is more linked to our age than to the times.
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#1260865 - 09/02/09 07:24 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10386
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
Sometimes I think we, as teachers, change more than they do, and perhaps the way we change is more linked to our age than to the times.


An insight worth considering further. I'm willing to bet that many parents have had the experience of seeing their children behaving in less than productive (or compassionate or wise) ways who have responded with some form of "I wasn't born yesterday, you know." And yet we have had to work hard really to remember what we were like at age ten. If we're honest (and have a normal memory!) it's often difficult to conjure up even an imperfect image of our own selves at a younger and much less responsible age.
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#1260967 - 09/02/09 11:11 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Intrigued by Cathy Shefsky's post - the basics in any discipline are vital. Weirdly, my son quite likes learning scales - he's at least one grade level ahead of the rest of his work in this area.
_________________________
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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#1261301 - 09/02/09 07:49 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
Sometimes I think we, as teachers, change more than they do, and perhaps the way we change is more linked to our age than to the times.


An insight worth considering further. I'm willing to bet that many parents have had the experience of seeing their children behaving in less than productive (or compassionate or wise) ways who have responded with some form of "I wasn't born yesterday, you know." And yet we have had to work hard really to remember what we were like at age ten. If we're honest (and have a normal memory!) it's often difficult to conjure up even an imperfect image of our own selves at a younger and much less responsible age.

I seem to have abnormally clear recall of what I as doing and what I felt like, going way back.

I was talking to one of my students who just started 4th grade. She learned to write cursive last year, and I was talking to her about what I felt like when I was also in the 3rd grade. We were talking about enjoying the way the letters flow together and the feeling of getting to express something through the writing.

Usually my students, of all ages, pretty much agree with me about what is frustrating in school, what it feels like when teachers don't care about what you think or feel, and what it feels like to have to pass tests on subjects that we just don't care about.

Usually it is the PARENTS that I lock horns with, because they have already forgotten what it feels like to be young and often have very little say in anything that is going on.

It amazes me when adults support the same things they fought against when they were younger. That doesn't mean, of course, that we weren't all wrong about a lot of things when we were young, but people forget that even when young people are wrong, the "do it because I told you to do it" reasoning is a trump card that needs to be played very carefully, and taking extra time to explain why something is important is always the best way, if there is time (and nothing "life and death" is happening). smile


Edited by Gary D. (09/02/09 07:52 PM)
Edit Reason: typos
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#1261305 - 09/02/09 08:05 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Kids also see thru the "do as I say, not as I do" argument fairly well. I wonder what percentage of kids who practice, see their parents making continuing effort toward a worthwhile, but not easily achieved, goal?

My closest "piano" friends when I was a kid were, I thought, everything I wasn't. They had started early and practiced every day for 1 or 2 hours (depending on age). Their family also led very structured lives, which mine didn't. Also, their mom played piano and *they saw her practice, herself* and work on and learn repertoire.

Of course, not every parent of a piano student *needs* to play and practice piano themselves. It could be any skill/hobby. But if the kids see dad (for instance) come home from work and park himself in front of the tv, and say, "I worked at my blankety-blank job all day and now I don't have to do a blankety-blank thing except sit here and watch tv."...I'm guessing the kid is going to think "I went to school all day and now I'm off and want to do what *I* want."
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#1261382 - 09/02/09 10:19 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Cathy Shefski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 16
Loc: NE Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Why do you think your students are changing so much?

I was like that in the 1950s and 1960s, so it can't only be about what is happening now. And because of the way I learned, and the way I think about music, it seems my students have always had very definite ideas about what they wanted to play.

Perhaps it is mostly about taking the time to find out what they really want. Sometimes I think we, as teachers, change more than they do, and perhaps the way we change is more linked to our age than to the times.


I think one of the reasons that the students are changing is because they're brains are different than ours. Don't laugh. I'm serious. With video games, the internet, cell phones, iPods, etc... they are used to getting information VERY quickly. And they are better at parallel processing than my generation. The way they're used to learning doesn't really work with the traditional methods of teaching where you build up your technique and repertoire with years of training. It's actually more than just "knowing what they want to play." It's knowing what they want, and wanting it "right now!"

When I was learning in the 60's and 70's, I trusted my teacher to feed me the repertoire. The only time I brought something I wanted to learn to a lesson was when I "discovered" Scott Joplin! LOL!
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#1261465 - 09/03/09 12:37 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Cathy Shefski]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Cathy Shefski

I think one of the reasons that the students are changing is because they're brains are different than ours. Don't laugh. I'm serious. With video games, the internet, cell phones, iPods, etc... they are used to getting information VERY quickly. And they are better at parallel processing than my generation.

I have been addicted to gagets since I was quite young, and I had a computer at a time when very few people had one. I'm in tune with this generation. They think fast, they are technologically savvy. If the ask me a question I can't immediately answer, they are fascinated by the fact that I can get the answer in seconds, using my computer. I do all my music in Finale, so if we discover something that could be better, I not only make improvements on the spot, I show them how I do it.

My criticism of the school system is that it is still in the last century and hasn't a clue how to utilize all the tools we have available.
Quote:

The way they're used to learning doesn't really work with the traditional methods of teaching where you build up your technique and repertoire with years of training.

But I keep saying that this is NOT how I learned myself. Good grief, if I had been forced to learn that way, I'm sure I would have quit. That's why I'm such a huge believer in reading ability. Once students can read well (music), they are free to make their own decisions about what they want to play next, which is exactly what I always did.

Trying to keep a student armed with top-notch reading skills and a technique that has a sane foundation from exploring is like telling a lover of reading language to go into a bookstore or a library but not read anything that is there. Of course some decisions are made about what is and is not appropriate, but that has nothing to do with the ability to read, and I figured out how to get around those obstacles back in the 1960s. smile
Quote:

It's actually more than just "knowing what they want to play." It's knowing what they want, and wanting it "right now!"

The only problem there is when they want something NOW that is over their ability, and that's just a matter of learning a basic reality: if something is too hard for you, you will have to do what is necessary to get good enough to change that fact.
Quote:

When I was learning in the 60's and 70's, I trusted my teacher to feed me the repertoire. The only time I brought something I wanted to learn to a lesson was when I "discovered" Scott Joplin! LOL!

When I was learning, starting in the late 50s, I was already listening to classical stations. I bought my own records, bought my own music, and I always had very strong desires about what I wanted to play next. Thank GOD I didn't have a teacher who insisted on picking all my music. That would have killed my interest.
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#1261548 - 09/03/09 04:05 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.
I choose most of the music for my students to play but not because I want to. I am fascinated by the thought that the rest of you have all these strong willed students who pick their own repertoire.

90% of the time if I ask a student what they want to play they will either say they don't know or they don't mind. If I give them a choice of pieces they will ask me which one is easiest and so pick that one. When I ask them to go to the music store and choose a book that appeals to them they never seem to make it.

Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.
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#1261551 - 09/03/09 04:22 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
I continue to have the impression, jnod, that the question lies in your own relationship with the piano, and in your relationship with you son, not in his relationship with the piano.

You say it yourself, kids see through everything, they react to the reality underneath the appearances.

Their reaction is not conscious or thought out. But what they are reacting to may also be unknown to you.



Edited by landorrano (09/03/09 04:23 AM)

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#1261612 - 09/03/09 08:07 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
Hugh Sung Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/06
Posts: 376
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I choose most of the music for my students to play but not because I want to. I am fascinated by the thought that the rest of you have all these strong willed students who pick their own repertoire.

90% of the time if I ask a student what they want to play they will either say they don't know or they don't mind. If I give them a choice of pieces they will ask me which one is easiest and so pick that one. When I ask them to go to the music store and choose a book that appeals to them they never seem to make it.

Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.

Hi Chris
This might be a great opportunity to explore and develop music listening habits. Great questions to start with might be:

  • What do you listen to on your iPod?
  • Do you have any favorite YouTube songs?
  • What are your favorite movies? (ie, soundtracks)
  • What are your favorite TV/Hulu shows?


There are some fantastic online radio services that start with a favorite song or composer, then automatically stream similar music in a playlist. For example, you could enter "Chopin" then hear similar works by Chopin or other romantic composers, or "Coldplay" and hear works by U2 or other similar types of bands. Pandora is one of the best ones out there, along with Last.fm which is particularly good for classical music selections. You might want to invite your students to start exploring their tastes and come up with 2 or 3 similar composers/bands/song titles as "homework" for the week.

From there, you could then find the favored sheet music scores. We have a bevvy of links to sheet music sites, popular and classical on our website at http://airturn.com/resources/, so that might be worth exploring. If the music isn't available, then using an open source program like MuseScore (http://www.musescore.org/) might be a great, free way to teach music notation and help the student transcribe his/her favorites.

Hope this helps!
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Hugh Sung
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#1261635 - 09/03/09 09:13 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Hugh Sung]
Cathy Shefski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 16
Loc: NE Pennsylvania
Hugh - Thank you for the link to Musescore.org. This looks like a great tool!

Chris H - as far as choosing repertoire...Yes, there are those students who say they don't care what they learn, but over the months I've seen they might prefer to practice certain pieces over others. For example, some like more lyrical pieces, others fast technical pieces, or pieces with jazzy rhythms, or whatever... and I offer suggestions accordingly. In other words, I don't insist that they learn all the Bach Inventions...unless, of course, they are committed to a career in classical performance.
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#1261777 - 09/03/09 12:30 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Chris H.




Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.


I do have an answer for this.

My husband coaches baseball and requires the players watch baseball. He tells them “I want you to sleep, eat, dream watch and poop baseball!” Ridiculous but the kids get the point.

I find that students do not have much, if any, exposure to piano music. Where are they going to hear it? Yet we expect them to chose music they like. I encourage parents to purchase piano CD’s watch Y0u Tube etc. Piano CD’s can be found in bargain bins.

I also have an extensive lending library and I send students home with piano CD’s, classical, jazz, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Schubert and so on.

When our dollar stores have piano CD’s I buy them all and give them to the students.

Years ago I found a turn of the century leather bound 12 volume encyclopedia set of nothing but piano works. IT is now public domain and copyright free. I photo copy out of it often.

I require students listen to classical music and find a piece they like. It is a great opportunity to talk about the composer and the musical era. I then give them a hard copy. They may not be able to learn the pieces yet but they can see how it is notated and what is LOOKS like. They begin “owning” some of this music.

There are also inexpensive CD of PDF documents of piano works. (When students are learning to play these pieces I do order new sheet music)

Believe it or not, most students who start out thinking they want to play contemporary music soon favor classical piano. I have seen it countless times.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1261796 - 09/03/09 01:02 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mrs.A]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Originally Posted By: Chris H.

Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.


Believe it or not, most students who start out thinking they want to play contemporary music soon favor classical piano. I have seen it countless times.


No I do not believe it! Kids want to play stuff that will impress their friends, and classical doesn't always do this! Kids need to play what they hear on the radio! As teachers we need to go the extra mile and figure out a way to do this! In my experience, classical is easier for us teachers to teach cause most music schools have taught it exclusively for years.

My son's friend came over and he has his Grade 10 RCM! When my son asked him to jam (my son on guitar, and him on piano) he was clueless about how to play along! He could play a classical piece perfect, but who cares. The fun is when you can play with a band, and he had been trained classical . . . that's it!

What kind of training is that?
_________________________
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1261811 - 09/03/09 01:25 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10386
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
My son's friend came over and he has his Grade 10 RCM! When my son asked him to jam (my son on guitar, and him on piano) he was clueless about how to play along! He could play a classical piece perfect, but who cares. The fun is when you can play with a band, and he had been trained classical . . . that's it!

What kind of training is that?


Serious question. Your notions of good and bad in music and in musical training are quite clear, but why do you think that this kind of attitude, expressed in such extremes (and extreme sarcasm) will persuade anyone who is not completely of your mind already?
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#1261841 - 09/03/09 02:04 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Originally Posted By: Chris H.

Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.


Believe it or not, most students who start out thinking they want to play contemporary music soon favor classical piano. I have seen it countless times.


No I do not believe it!



I do. Music that has been specifically composed for piano (music of ANY genre...classical, good pop arrangements, ragtime, whatever), composed well, and both sounds "right" on piano and is comfortable/possible to play well...is rewarding to play on piano.

I personally hate pop arrangements that take something that has been played by a whole band and try to cram that all into the piano without really understanding what it takes to do it well.

I suspect that is why so many people just prefer fake books and playing by ear when they're interested in other genres. So much of what's out there for piano is just badly written and sounds like crap.

Classical piano music has been WRITTEN for piano. It's MEANT to be played on piano, and is satisfying and makes sense on piano when you're trying to play it. And it sounds "right" on an acoustic piano played solo. (this is a very broad generalization and not meant to include every composer obviously) That is why it's my favorite type of music to play.
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#1261845 - 09/03/09 02:13 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Originally Posted By: Chris H.

Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.


Believe it or not, most students who start out thinking they want to play contemporary music soon favor classical piano. I have seen it countless times.


No I do not believe it!


The issue is whether or not music is well written for piano, not the style of the music. And as usual it's stupid to talk about "classical music". It doesn't exist.

I do. Music that has been specifically composed for piano (music of ANY genre...classical, good pop arrangements, ragtime, whatever), composed well, and both sounds "right" on piano and is comfortable/possible to play well...is rewarding to play on piano.

I personally hate pop arrangements that take something that has been played by a whole band and try to cram that all into the piano without really understanding what it takes to do it well.

I suspect that is why so many people just prefer fake books and playing by ear when they're interested in other genres. So much of what's out there for piano is just badly written and sounds like crap.

Classical piano music has been WRITTEN for piano. It's MEANT to be played on piano, and is satisfying and makes sense on piano when you're trying to play it. And it sounds "right" on an acoustic piano played solo. (this is a very broad generalization and not meant to include every composer obviously) That is why it's my favorite type of music to play.
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#1261847 - 09/03/09 02:15 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
Thanks for the question David!

The RCM office in Toronto called me because they started making random calls to piano teachers and wanted feedback on what we thought of the RCM music program! So I let them have it and told them just what I told you here!

I asked them a ton of question and gave them positive suggestions and she agreed with my concerns. Change is coming, . . is what she told me! So we'll see!

They see Conservatory Canada making changes, and they are asking teachers for their honest opinions!

In conclusion, see what motivates a teacher! Hope it isn't just the almighty buck!

EDIT: took out "she told" cause I wrote it twice!


Edited by Diane... (09/03/09 02:19 PM)
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#1261938 - 09/03/09 04:30 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Originally Posted By: Chris H.

Choosing repertoire is one of the biggest problems I have in teaching. I know what I like and I know what to pick in order to develop skills. But finding out what they want to play is like pulling teeth.


Believe it or not, most students who start out thinking they want to play contemporary music soon favor classical piano. I have seen it countless times.


No I do not believe it! Kids want to play stuff that will impress their friends, and classical doesn't always do this! Kids need to play what they hear on the radio! As teachers we need to go the extra mile and figure out a way to do this! In my experience, classical is easier for us teachers to teach cause most music schools have taught it exclusively for years.

My son's friend came over and he has his Grade 10 RCM! When my son asked him to jam (my son on guitar, and him on piano) he was clueless about how to play along! He could play a classical piece perfect, but who cares. The fun is when you can play with a band, and he had been trained classical . . . that's it!

What kind of training is that?



WOW….Goodness sakes. I am not lying.

Am I to understand that you believe the years of training your son’s friend rec’d was a mistake? You concluded that his study is failure due to one experience in a jam session ...hmmm. You can’t really believe that a grade 10 classically trained pianist doesn’t like the classical music he has spent years learning? I find THAT hard to believe.

I do teach my students how to improvise a chord progression and “Jam” It is not hard. It is an easy step for a classically trained pianist to make.

I stand by my statement. I do not force students to learn only classical. Once they listened they appreciate it. THEY chose to study classical works. The point I was making in my post is that we expect kids to chose a repertoire and yet forget they haven’t heard much piano music.


This is a place to share ideas, not call each other liars.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1262045 - 09/03/09 08:37 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mrs.A]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Maybe too, there's something to be said for working towards an understanding of things you don't necessarily like at first?
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-------
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Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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#1262135 - 09/03/09 11:27 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
I'm beginning to think this trend to "happiness" in piano lessons is a very good thing....I'm having to adjust a little to it as a reality. First of all I know learning music is a dedicated path that is on my incline upward from the day you start lessons so my mindset has been toward progress and the making of an independent student. I think there are many happy moments in piano lessons but I don't think it's generates a totally happy state until there is some sense of accomplishment and some acquired skills to make the music sound like music.

The happy is a good thing to be buying with todays' economy that produces so much stress for many people.

As I mentioned I'm adjusting to this new idea as a ground floor level before anything else happens in lessons. I've always let students choose some of their music and I do have a thriving assortment of music which fills the bill for assignments. I don't think that my students are at a loss of laughter, fun, or enjoyment.

It's the picture that is always happy that is the one that I'm adjusting to and trying to make it more achievable. First of all from myself toward my students. I feel a shift going on. It's a form of growth?

In the meantime, I'll still structure and teach the materials I'm most pleased with getting results we all need, but I'll be on the lookout for opportunities to make it more special.

I don't like the word practice, but I know it's essential.

Where is the new world that is perfect to describe what we want?

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#1262249 - 09/04/09 09:14 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mrs.A]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
I find that students do not have much, if any, exposure to piano music. Where are they going to hear it? Yet we expect them to chose music they like. I encourage parents to purchase piano CD’s watch Y0u Tube etc. Piano CD’s can be found in bargain bins.

I also have an extensive lending library and I send students home with piano CD’s, classical, jazz, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Schubert and so on.

When our dollar stores have piano CD’s I buy them all and give them to the students.

Years ago I found a turn of the century leather bound 12 volume encyclopedia set of nothing but piano works. IT is now public domain and copyright free. I photo copy out of it often.

I require students listen to classical music and find a piece they like. It is a great opportunity to talk about the composer and the musical era. I then give them a hard copy. They may not be able to learn the pieces yet but they can see how it is notated and what is LOOKS like. They begin “owning” some of this music.

There are also inexpensive CD of PDF documents of piano works. (When students are learning to play these pieces I do order new sheet music)

Believe it or not, most students who start out thinking they want to play contemporary music soon favor classical piano. I have seen it countless times.



That's a great idea and one that I will certainly try. You are right, the main reason they think they don't like Classical music is that they don't get enough exposure to it. The lending library could really help and I can imagine them ripping piano music onto their ipods and spending more time listening to it. Thanks for that.

I must say that I don't get many students who hate the music I set them to play. Sometimes you have to work a bit harder to sell it to them but once they start playing a piece they usually get into it, whatever the style. I have mixed feeling about pop music. It seems to work well for some, particularly teenagers, but on the whole the arrangements are poor and they are not satisfying to play. As others have pointed out they were often not conceived for piano and tend to have really complex melodies with too many ties, dots and syncopation because of the vocals. Then when you look at the accompaniments they can be very repetitive and dull. I have had a lot of students bring this stuff to lessons and get bored with it very quickly.

As a child I played plenty of music from films and video games. But I worked it all out by ear and didn't bother my piano teacher with it. Most of the fun was doing this for myself and to be honest if my teacher had printed a score for me to play I don't think I could have been bothered. It was the same with jazz and improvisation. I learned how to jam with a band by joining a band and jamming! My teacher encouraged me to do this but he didn't get involved with the music I was playing. I do the same kind of thing now as a teacher and always encourage my students to join ensembles and play a variety of styles. I love to hear that they have been asked by their school to accompany the choir or form a band but in reality they rarely need my help with the music. Some things you need to discover for yourself.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1262312 - 09/04/09 11:17 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
Loc: Western Canada
It takes a lot of time and money to find well written popular piano arrangements and has cost me more than a pretty penny too find it! There are, actually, lots of popular music out that are NOT always poorly written, as is usually the argument from classical piano teachers. But in my experience it has been well worth the effort AND COST to find these good arrangements. It just lifts the kids spirits as they get to play something they like. Not to mention that it has kept the interest of my students up. Too many have started piano lessons hoping they will play popular music, only to find that the teacher doesn't do popular music. They are discouraged when they have come from exclusive taking lessons from a classical ONLY piano teacher! They have told me that after doing grade after grade of classical exams, they ask their teacher when they can play something they like. And they usually get just more and more classical pieces!

Yes, its true that popular music is filled with ties, dots, and syncopation. I'm not endorcing that I would get rid of classical pieces! I use them as well! But mixing classical with good arrangements of popular music (of all kinds) is key to keeping the students interest!

As I said before, the RCM has us teachers buy 2 books; Repertoire, and the etudes for each grade! Years ago the repertoire and the etudes were in one book, but now they made 2 books and charge us double! Would like to see it go back to one book again!) Anyways, they now have allowed popular music to be played in exams by giving us teachers a Popular Selection List that we can substitute in place of an etude for an exam! But it's more trouble and very costly because . . . we have to go and buy ALL the popular books they have suggested. Each selection is IN A DIFFERENT BOOKS! I have bought ALL the books they suggested and it cost me HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of dollars (I'm thinking thousands of dollars) to buy all the music books (and the sheet music) they have suggested! And the piece they can substitute is worth a WHOLE *5 MARKS*! The Classical Repertoire are worth *24 MARKS*) Worth it???? I think not! But I bought it all anyways! It's more hastle to buy the popular! Most teachers just let the student play the 1 page etude for the 5 marks rather than the 3 page Disney piece that was suggested by the RCM!

So, I'm not saying, throw out the classical. It has its place, but there are great popular music arrangements out there! Took me years to find it! Not to mention a ton of money!

I would like to see the RCM give us ONE BOOK that has popular arrangements in it that would cost the student an easy $10 (instead of having to have us teachers buy all the popular books and lend it out to each student for an exam) with a variety of popular arrangements that they could play for an exam and, equivalent to the other 2 classical repertoire pieces that are required.

And for the younger students, everyone one has asked for a DISNEY piece! Teens have asked for a specific song! And it has done wonders for their enthusiasm when they get it!

This year, every one of my 28 students, exception of one, came back to my studio this year! I think that speaks volumes!
_________________________
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Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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