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#1265585 - 09/09/09 10:37 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Monica K. Online   blank

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Man, I go out for dinner and this thread goes all to heck. eek I'm not even sure where to begin: Betty's universal vibrations? Rembrandt? Monkeys?

Maybe I'll just offer this anecdote. Last year my daughter's music class did keyboarding for the school year. Many of the students were completely new to piano/keyboards. At the end of the year, the teacher held a recital. Each student was asked to play two pieces: one of them a piece from their method book, and the other a free improv. (Not 100% 'improv'; they knew they would be doing it and so practiced improvising ahead of time. I will confess here that I cheated and told my daughter about the 'if you play only black keys it will all sound good no matter which ones you hit' trick. She appreciated it. thumb )

But here's the most striking thing about that recital: the 'learned' pieces were, for the most part, painful to listen to. The improvs were orders of magnitude better... they were more musical in sound and sometimes even more musically complex, and--in marked contrast to the rehearsed pieces--the kids clearly enjoyed playing them, and playing them for us, much more than they did the other pieces.

In short, while I think Ed could state his case a bit more diplomatically, I think he has a point that's relevant to the O.P.'s original question: The act and joy of creating can help motivate a child who's not sufficiently motivated by traditional lessons.
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#1265658 - 09/10/09 12:47 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Monica K.]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Originally Posted By: Monica K.

In short, while I think Ed could state his case a bit more diplomatically, I think he has a point that's relevant to the O.P.'s original question: The act and joy of creating can help motivate a child who's not sufficiently motivated by traditional lessons.


That is a good point, but it's not Ed's point. Ed's point, in almost every thread I've noticed his input, is that classical music sucks and so do classical musicians.

We need an improvised composition titled "the internet troll"
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#1265660 - 09/10/09 12:53 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
Ed's point, in almost every thread I've noticed his input, is that classical music sucks and so do classical musicians.

We need an improvised composition titled "the internet troll"

Prodigal, I love classical music. I've nothing against people who play classical music. But maybe the composition we need here is "Glorified Typist" played meticulously by you.
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#1265668 - 09/10/09 01:11 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
currawong Offline
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Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Prodigal, I love classical music. I've nothing against people who play classical music. But maybe the composition we need here is "Glorified Typist" played meticulously by you.
Let's get this straight. You love classical music, but regard the very people who bring it to you, the performers, as glorified typists. How can you hear and appreciate this music without either [1]playing it yourself or [2]listening to a performer playing it? You love the product but scorn the method used to produce it? You're not making sense.
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#1265675 - 09/10/09 01:26 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
Ed's point, in almost every thread I've noticed his input, is that classical music sucks and so do classical musicians.

We need an improvised composition titled "the internet troll"

Prodigal, I love classical music. I've nothing against people who play classical music. But maybe the composition we need here is "Glorified Typist" played meticulously by you.


LOL

If you're trying to insult me or offend me or make me mad you're failing miserably. Calling me a glorified typist is just too ridiculous to be insulting. That's your fixation, not mine. It's like trying to insult me by telling me my cat hates me...you couldn't possibly know because you don't know me or my playing. Or, for that matter, my cat.

It's no one's fault but your own that you are rapidly gaining the dubious distinction of being the second person on PW who has their own personal axe to grind that rarely if ever has anything to do with the actual topic of the thread. At least on the Pianist and Teacher's forum. For all I know you are terrific in the non-classical forum. Perhaps there you are not just taking random potshots at people, genres and ideas you don't like.
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#1265678 - 09/10/09 01:33 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss
An artist creates something original. A concert pianist recreates an original work and puts his slight interpretive spin on it.
Do you have any idea how much effort that involves? The art of putting yourself in someone else's shoes? With a piece of paper as a starting point?
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#1265723 - 09/10/09 06:53 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Minniemay Offline
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Isn't communication a major component of any kind of art? If it is not shared, then perhaps it's not art. Rembrandt didn't paint a painting, then stick it in a closet. Composers didn't write their pieces to not be heard or interpreted.

Art becomes art when it becomes interactive, recreated as it were, by the mind and the heart. For visual art, we respond through seeing it. For music, we can respond either by creating it through composition, or recreating a work that is written. It does not really become art until the sound is realized. Realizing that sound beautifully and creatively takes technique, intellect and artistry.
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#1265737 - 09/10/09 07:42 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
keystring Online   content
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So what is artistry? Eweiss, you like to create new pieces on the spot, maybe getting inspiration from a couple of notes strung together, some rhythms, and let it take off. You've got your ostinato and other things to keep you going - not too far from what "classical" was originally. That's something I'd like to be able to do, btw. But that's not the only thing art can be.

The musician used to be considered an artisan, like the carpenter. Our carpenter had to make a certain pattern of chairs, but the way he put together that chair in the details made it his own unique work. That's why the old furniture sings to the eye. When I do classical music I try to see what the composer has put into the notes, therefore what can be drawn out of the notes. You're getting into little things like how this can be a little bit louder or longer than that, or where the phrasings or rhythms can be placed. You can get really absorbed in that. And just maybe, when you don't hear this little nuances in other kinds of music, that music sounds flat. It depends what you're listening for.

On the other hand, our "classical" music used to have room for improvisation. Not all the notes were written out. That went by the wayside because the music got too complicated, and because musicians at some point no longer had the full training for the notes and theory to pull it off to still be at their fingertips. Is it really classical vs. non-classical, or is it a certain stiffness and rigidity that has crept the formal world? On the other hand, I understand that for improvising you've got to know a fair bit too, otherwise that becomes less than impressive. And maybe the other side hasn't developed the ears for it. Does it have to be us against them, or denigrating what the other side is doing?

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#1265741 - 09/10/09 07:53 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Prodigal, I love classical music. I've nothing against people who play classical music. But maybe the composition we need here is "Glorified Typist" played meticulously by you.
Let's get this straight. You love classical music, but regard the very people who bring it to you, the performers, as glorified typists. How can you hear and appreciate this music without either [1]playing it yourself or [2]listening to a performer playing it? You love the product but scorn the method used to produce it? You're not making sense.


I would say that anyone who calls performing classical music "glorified typists" does not know enough about what it takes to learn and perform the music to be able to comment. Over the years I've heard the same thing many times. It's almost always from people who have lacked the discipline and talent it takes learn and present compositions from great composers whose music is still wonderfully alive because it is still performed.

I don't see anything in any of eweiss' posts that shows any understanding of that, so I would assume he has no knowledge, appreciation, or experience there. As a result, his comments on the subject have no credibility. In addition, the repetition of the same thing over and over in his posts shows nothing but trollish behavior.

The best thing about this forum is exchange of ideas, and the opportunity to ask questions and learn from others. Reading the same silly put downs, and erroneous opinions of posters who demonstrate no understanding of what they're talking about is one of the negatives.

People here value and understand improvisation, and original composition. Why is that even an issue? Time to move on.

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#1265743 - 09/10/09 08:05 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
For all I know you are terrific in the non-classical forum. Perhaps there you are not just taking random potshots at people, genres and ideas you don't like.



Not really. Pretty much a "one-note-Johnny" there, as well (not the best moniker for an improviser).

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#1265797 - 09/10/09 10:34 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
bitWrangler Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Well, if Rembrandt painted this, if it came from his brush, it's his art. Seems simple enough but some people refuse to accept simple truths.
[snip]
If it's original and from the indiviual it is art.


But your not being consistent here. Rembrandt is simply aping reality. He is reproducing the image of something that already exists, the content is in no way "original". By your definition how does this (or any other "art" that replicates real or already imaged items) constitute "art"? Not arguing against you, just trying to understand exactly where you're coming from.

What's funny is that in some ways I do agree, there is a difference between "art" and "artistry". A goodly percentage of what's performed on the piano is neither and I think that there are some that definitely have artistry. By the same token, I would disagree that the mere act of being "original" somehow elevates something to being "art" (we won't even get into what "original" means since even you give "lessons" which already will tend to predispose even your students to "create" in a particular way).

We let our daughter take some "jazz" piano lessons this summer to both give her a nice change of pace from the "standard classical" stuff she's doing, but also because we do see the value in having a deeper understanding of the music and theory and the ability to play more ad-hoc. I, however, would not consider some of her ad-hoc creations any more "artistic" than some of her interpretations of pieces of classic repertoire. In both cases there are sets of guidelines, both explicit, implicit and artistic that she is bound by that she is then free to explore within the context of.

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#1265877 - 09/10/09 12:56 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Phlebas]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Phlebas
I don't see anything in any of eweiss' posts that shows any understanding of that, so I would assume he has no knowledge, appreciation, or experience there. As a result, his comments on the subject have no credibility. In addition, the repetition of the same thing over and over in his posts shows nothing but trollish behavior.

Sorry. But the trollish behavior is coming from you Phlebas. What I have to say is controversial here (of course) so I get slammed.

It all started with my response to BP talking about musicianship. You don't like my opinion? Fine. You don't have to. I don't particularly enjoy reading yours either. But to call what I have to say "trollish" just because it doesn't jibe with your sensibilities is irresponsible as a moderator.
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#1265889 - 09/10/09 01:26 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Please get the chip off of your shoulder. Many people argue positions that are controversial without stirring up the kind of reaction you are encountering. If the controversy is inherent in the positions taken, the discussion can nonetheless be carried on with decorum, i.e. people can make their points and agree to disagree. But the controversy can be fanned into flame by the way you present your case. When deeply controversial ideas are presented as assertions that are self-evident, and the assertions are made in a way that many people think is gratuitously insulting, you should not be shocked that your 'controversial ideas' stimulate a spirited backlash.

Phlebas' point (made by others as well) is that you tend to present your views in a maximally 'in your face' way. Maybe that's just your style, but it's clearly your choice to make, and a lot of people seem to find it trollish.

If you want to be taken seriously, and not as a johnny one note slinging around one-liners you need to take the serious arguments presented by people like bitWrangler and keystring (not to mention Phlebas and Prodigal) a bit more seriously. The fact that you respond to them in a very minimalist way by largely repeating your assertions suggests that you really don't have much to say beyond your one note.
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#1265901 - 09/10/09 01:41 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Yep. You're right. I was wrong and I apologize. I'm not stupid and I realize what I'm saying is offending a lot of people here. And I'm sorry for that. frown
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#1266503 - 09/11/09 02:51 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss
Yep. You're right. I was wrong and I apologize. I'm not stupid and I realize what I'm saying is offending a lot of people here. And I'm sorry for that. frown
No, how you say it.
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#1292051 - 10/22/09 07:12 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
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Loc: Toronto
So, in case anyone out there is still thinking about how best to keep an 8 year old boy engaged in his practising - a recent change I've made with my son has helped a lot. It's a little thing but it's made a *huge* difference.

Instead of starting with the stuff he knows best and working our way to the newer and harder things, we do it the other way around. He now starts off working through his newest piece - I've implemented the weekly schedule idea suggested on this thread. By Monday he tries to know the new thing hands separately, Tuesday he tries to put them together, Wednesday he works on getting the rhythm right etc. This has helped a great deal both to keep him focused on a goal and me focused on not pushing him too hard.

But the thing of working towards the pieces he knows best also helps a lot. THe look of satisfaction as he moves to something he can actually play is huge. The end is so much more fun than the beginning that it's much easier to keep him going.

Anyway, that's all. He's working on "Teapot Invention", "the Flea" and a little G major Minuet by Haydn - all from the level 1 RCM book. It's going great! Very exciting to see this turnaround!!
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#1292068 - 10/22/09 08:00 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Hugh Sung]
ChrisA Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
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 was about to say something like this but the above is says it most simply.

What the kid likely hates is the endless dull repetition. And music that does not interest him.

Find a way to git him playing "his music" that stuff he likes. Some of the teachers locally take pride that they do NOT teach out of books and can transcribe popular music to the students current ability. Kids like this.

Then to get him motivated tell him you will let him play a concert when he's ready. Let him show off Kids this age need very short term goals. They can't work on goals that are months away. So,... give him music he can learn in a few weeks and that is "his music".

Another huge motivator for kids is their peers. My daughter is in 6th grade band and I think her frinds all also in band motivates them all. If yu can figure some way to make music more social it would help. But 8 is just a couiple years to young for that maybe

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#1292071 - 10/22/09 08:05 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: ChrisA]
Less Rubato Offline
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Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 266
Loc: Washington state via OH-IO
I have been reading this thread with interest. My son cycles in and out of being interested in piano. He'll be 8 soon. Our teacher tries hard to give him music that he'll like to play. It helps.
Interestingly, inspiration comes from odd places. We bought my son a pug puppy a few months ago and the puppy loves to hang out by the piano. Now we play up the angle that the pup is actually waiting to hear my son play. He enjoys playing for his canine friend. Who knew?

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#1292193 - 10/23/09 01:23 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: jnod

Instead of starting with the stuff he knows best and working our way to the newer and harder things, we do it the other way around.
How often the simplest ideas are the best.
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#1292783 - 10/24/09 03:39 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Wizard of Oz Offline
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Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Monica: Very cool observation about your kids playing the improv pieces better. I think that all students should learn how to improvise at an early age.

eweiss: I understand your frustration with classical, I am mainly a jazz player so I agree freedom to play your own music is preferable to someone else's. However, classical training is by far the best way to get your technical skills or "chops" to the highest level. Then you have the foundation to play whatever you want.

Your new age music a good marketing tool to sell your stuff, but really, any kid with 1-2 years training and some jazz/improv instruction can play what you are playing. To my ears it sounds quite plain and simple, but then again I don't much like Yanni or even George Winston.

Learn some jazz chords, upper structures, altered notes, a lydian dominant mode or 2, a Csus b9, non-diatonic resolution and you'll be on your way!

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#1292788 - 10/24/09 04:01 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Wizard of Oz]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Don't forget to smoke and learn to say 'nice' and Great!.
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#1439335 - 05/18/10 09:12 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
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Loc: Toronto
I was looking through some old posts and thought I would update this one as it attracted so much attention last year. Thanks, at least in part, to some of the suggestions in this string, I was able to keep my son going - he's now gearing up for his second grade exam (RCM) and he's doing quite well.

Not sure what the moral of the story is but for what it's worth, I was very close to taking him out of lessons and am not very happy that I did not.
_________________________
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Bach English Suite #5
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#1439401 - 05/18/10 11:09 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
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Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: jnod
I was very close to taking him out of lessons and am not very happy that I did not.
I'm assuming that's a typo for now very happy... smile
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#1439437 - 05/19/10 01:12 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
Roxy Offline
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Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
Just remember no matter what your child says they do not hate you (even if they use those exact words) nor do they hate music or the piano they hate the discipline that is required of them to sit a certain amount of time and actually think. So the more you can change it up a bit every once in a while and let them know that, like school work there is no option, the easier the practicing should be. Generally your child will only be as committed as you are. "Don't weary in well doing." You are giving your child more than mere music lessons so don't get tired or discouraged. Keep it up.

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#1439445 - 05/19/10 01:47 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Roxy]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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When some kids say they hate piano, they really do.
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#1439476 - 05/19/10 03:09 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Roxy]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Roxy
You are giving your child more than mere music lessons so don't get tired or discouraged. Keep it up.


Do music music lessons merit "mere" ?

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#1439521 - 05/19/10 06:38 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
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Loc: Toronto
Gary D's comment was exactly what I was afraid of. In my kid's case the evidence against was that he was doing well at it. If he had been complaining steadily about his daily practice and had also been making little or no progress then I think it would have meant there was no point.
_________________________
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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#1439523 - 05/19/10 06:44 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
One last thing: in hindsight, Betty Patnude's suggestion of designated roles for each practice during the week was the most generally helpful. It accomplished two things. First, it set a limit to what he had to get done (for a new piece, maybe just a choppy, hands separate reading on day 1 for ex). Second, and maybe more important, it set a limit on my expectations - once he got through that crappy first reading of a tough new piece he was done with that for the day and could focus on something else.

Slow, steay progress rather than drilling deep on all things at all times. Worked very very well.
_________________________
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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#1439536 - 05/19/10 07:39 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Quote:
One last thing: in hindsight, Betty Patnude's suggestion of designated roles for each practice during the week was the most generally helpful. It accomplished two things. First, it set a limit to what he had to get done (for a new piece, maybe just a choppy, hands separate reading on day 1 for ex). Second, and maybe more important, it set a limit on my expectations -...


Thoughts on that:
Even for adults, it is impossible to focus on many new things at the same time. We don't accomplish more: we have a muddle of many things vaguely almost reached. Practising for anyone is more effective if you set smaller goals and work toward them, and gradually change those goals during the week. Young children can concentrate on less things than adults (in terms of a list if instructions). On the other hand they have a wonderful way of getting absorbed in a single thing that we adults have sometimes lost.

It is easier to work on one difficult thing and see progress in it, knowing it's ok that it is "choppy" because that choppines will disappear. It is discouraging when you are in a muddle, and encouraging when you can see something that you can do an aim for. Children like to grow and succeed. All children aspire to be able to do what that grown ups can do.

As a lesson for all of us, it sounds like you didn't just get your child to put his nose to the grindstone. You also changed the way you guided his practice. Would you say that he enjoys his practising more? I'm curious whether there are times that might even make a beeline to the piano on his own.

(As parent in retrospect, i.e. mine's grown. As student in the present. The idea of what small children can concentrate on comes from teacher training through a wonderful mentor - non-music.)


Edited by keystring (05/19/10 07:39 AM)

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#1439608 - 05/19/10 09:43 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: keystring]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Yes he is a lot happier with practicing than previously. There are still bad days or days when he's not into it - I try not to force the issue when he's really at the end of his tether. And there have been additional challenges as well. For example, he's been working a lot on sight reading since his first exam (81%!) last January. He found sight reading very stressful at first but this turned out to be entirely caused by me sitting there drumming my fingers while he tried to concentrate. Now, I give him his line-a-day and leave the room for 5 minutes while he sorts through it. He frequently will call out "how much time left?" and that sort of thing, but mostly he just focuses and get's it done. Humongous improvement!

I guess the point is that as often as not, the problem was not him but me....
_________________________
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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