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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
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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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: 5423
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 Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4785
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: 4750
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: 2846
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.
_________________________
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 Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11461
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: 376
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!
_________________________
Hugh Sung
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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: 5423
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: 4750
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 Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
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: 4750
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
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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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~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
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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: 2846
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?
_________________________
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: 2457
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.
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
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"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
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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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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
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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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1260134 - 09/01/09 07:02 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

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
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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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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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#1260147 - 09/01/09 07:51 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
lilylady Offline
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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
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#1260273 - 09/01/09 11:39 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: lilylady]
Morodiene Online   content
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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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#1260287 - 09/01/09 12:03 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Morodiene]
Hugh Sung Offline
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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...)
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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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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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#1260487 - 09/01/09 05:38 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
lilylady Offline
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"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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#1260548 - 09/01/09 07:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: lilylady]
jnod Offline
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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.
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#1260559 - 09/01/09 07:36 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
lilylady Offline
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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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#1260627 - 09/01/09 08:51 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Gary D. Offline
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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
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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!
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#1260699 - 09/01/09 10:28 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Piano*Dad Offline
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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#1261635 - 09/03/09 09:13 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Hugh Sung]
Cathy Shefski Offline
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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
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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.
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#1261796 - 09/03/09 01:02 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mrs.A]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
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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#1261811 - 09/03/09 01:25 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Piano*Dad Offline
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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
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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
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
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
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
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.
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#1262045 - 09/03/09 08:37 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Mrs.A]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
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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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#1262135 - 09/03/09 11:27 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
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
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2846
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.
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#1262312 - 09/04/09 11:17 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
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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#1262370 - 09/04/09 01:27 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2846
Loc: UK.
I don't know of any teachers who refuse to let their students play anything other than Classical. Do they really exist? And if they do then what is to stop a child from playing whatever they like outside of their lessons? My teacher could not have stopped me from playing video game music by ear not that he would have wanted to. I got a lot of benefit from doing that.

I think the problem is that many students use this idea of 'not liking the piece' as an easy excuse not to practise. If a student tells me that they hate a particular piece then that's fine, we will pick something else. If they tell me they want to play popular music then I ask, "What's stopping you?". Most of these kids are more internet savvy than I am so if I can find sheet music to download then you can bet they can as well.

Also I can say hand on heart that when a student does not practise it rarely has anything to do with the style of music they are playing. Making a switch to pop music might pacify them in the short term but before long you will be right back where you started.
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#1262403 - 09/04/09 02:18 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Chris, I think it has to do a lot with MONEY

Most of the classical composers aren't benefitting from their pieces because they are dead! But popular composers in this century, well, are alive, and everyone wants a piece of the pie! Copy right laws!

And yes, 2 of my classical teachers were exclusively classical. Spending too much time getting down the exam pieces, as well as 6 others, that had to be learned! One teacher even refused to let me to play a piece I HAD learned on my own at the recital because she hadn't helped me with it! And she wanted just my exam pieces And . . . most kids need help with the popular pieces because, as you said, dots and rest and syncopation . . . all over the place! They aren't always easy, and, some teachers just want to get the pieces done for exams because, as I said, the teachers (and parents) don't have to put out a ton of money to buy extra popular music (teacher's maybe can't afford to put out extra money for it either)!

Downloading music from the internet is not right, as you know! Copy right issues! So again, I think it comes down to, "Do you really want to make the parents pay for the sheet music when, what they have been doing for years is simply playing dead people's music . . . for cheap!

Still think it all has to do with MONEY!

EDIT: added "for cheap"!


Edited by Diane... (09/04/09 02:20 PM)
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#1262425 - 09/04/09 02:42 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2846
Loc: UK.
I don't know. When I search for sheet music online the Classical books seem to cost the same as the popular books.

Sheet music can be expensive regardless of style and genre and it's often the case that you need to buy a whole book just to get at one particular piece. A lot of current pop music would not even be available for piano and we all know that kids don't want to play something which was popular last year! Even more reason for them to have a go by ear.
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#1262486 - 09/04/09 04:06 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Chris H.]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
You probably have all the classical pieces in your collection already, as I do! Probably have many of them in different EDITIONS too! Not sure how your system works, but here, we have all the classical pieces for that grade in one book, so it's cheap and easy to use! And the book costs approximately $12.

My point is, I would really like to see the RCM have 3 books, (not just 2)! EACH GRADE would have, then, 3 books; 1 book with CLASSICAL repertoire, 1 book for ETUDES and 1 book with POPULAR selections (Disney pieces in it would be nice)! Each book would cost roughly $12 each! Give or take depending on the Grade level!
And the popular pieces, the student learns, wouldn't be worth less in marks than the Classical piece!

At the present, the RCM just included, in exams, Christopher Norton's books. And for each Grade up to Grade 8! But . . . out of the 20 pieces in each book, RCM has stated that they only allow 3 out of the 20 pieces in that book, BUT . . . in the Classical repertoire, they allow you to use ALL pieces! And believe me, some of those pieces are just painful because they may be from Canadian composers, and . . . well what can I say, I wouldn't let my worst enemy listen to some of THOSE pieces! (ON SECOND THOUGHT! smile )

Anyways, times change, music changes, and why not have a Disney piece now and again that has to be up and ready for an EXAM!

Just in conclusion, the gowns worn way back when Mozart was around may have been in style, but, hey, pleeeeaaaazzzze, give me my blue jeans once in a while! grin
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#1262491 - 09/04/09 04:20 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington

Diane,

My compliments to you!

I was really happy to hear you say..."This year, every one of my 28 students, exception of one, came back to my studio this year! I think that speaks volumes!"

My heart almost breaks when I think about the students who haven't been faring well in piano lessons and who have closed the door too soon, too early to have found the miracle of success for themselves. Sometimes students' personal circumstances are difficult to work out, sometimes they give up at the first obstacle, sometimes they leave because something else got in the way, some are quitters because it's the easy way out. It's truly hard to achieve a rescue that keeps the student in lessons if the problem is significant.

To have everyone of your students back this year is a credit to them and to you. I hope it's a wonderful year for all of you!

Betty

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#1262512 - 09/04/09 05:04 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Diane...]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Diane...

My point is, I would really like to see the RCM have 3 books, (not just 2)! EACH GRADE would have, then, 3 books; 1 book with CLASSICAL repertoire, 1 book for ETUDES and 1 book with POPULAR selections (Disney pieces in it would be nice)! Each book would cost roughly $12 each! Give or take depending on the Grade level!
And the popular pieces, the student learns, wouldn't be worth less in marks than the Classical piece!

This is why I am a part of no organizations. If I had to align what I do to rules written by other people, I'd no longer be a teacher. By the way, much to my shock, almost every student I had from last year is also back, and about 2/3rds of my students studied with me throughout the summer.

I have one 4th grade boy who is dying to play the theme from the first Narnia movie. It was just too hard for him at the end of last fall, but I'm almost sure he will do it easily this fall.

Another student, just starting 2nd grade, is all excited about playing the theme from the Popeye cartoons. (I'm Popeye the Sailor Man)

And this actually has nice RH scale patterns in it.

Like you I spend a good bit of my time looking for ANY KIND of interesting music, and I add it to my list of "things to do". Some music is not well arranged, but I can often change that. So long as I sell the original sheet music, I doubt I am taking money out of anyone's pockets by providing an alternate version that makes the music more effective and "piano friendly".
Quote:

At the present, the RCM just included, in exams, Christopher Norton's books. And for each Grade up to Grade 8! But . . . out of the 20 pieces in each book, RCM has stated that they only allow 3 out of the 20 pieces in that book, BUT . . . in the Classical repertoire, they allow you to use ALL pieces! And believe me, some of those pieces are just painful because they may be from Canadian composers, and . . . well what can I say, I wouldn't let my worst enemy listen to some of THOSE pieces! (ON SECOND THOUGHT! smile )

That brings up an interesting point. When examining "traditional collections", the mindset seems to be that something, anything, written by a famous composer trumps something written by someone less well known—or mostly unknown.

But I keep pointing out to my students that famous composers were seldom very good at writing materials for beginners, so their "easy" music either tends to be rather boring OR is not really easy. Even in Bach's Anna Magdalena notebook, the two pieces that my students usually like best are not by Bach, but by Petzold—the two minuets (or menuets).
Quote:

Anyways, times change, music changes, and why not have a Disney piece now and again that has to be up and ready for an EXAM!

Well, for me—down with exams, up with extra pieces from Disney or anyone else that get students of all ages to practice.

My students' tastes change as they improve. My advanced players are open to anything that sounds good to them, anything that sounds pretty, or exciting, or interesting, and although they will sometimes pick things that are very popular, now, they will also pick things that are not contemporary at all.

The trick is to allow them to grow. This is why I prefer to allow students to start off in any reasonable direction they want to pursue, then watch as their interest in music develops. They all end up diversifying, and that's what I want, as a teacher.

I'm trying to develop a positive addiction, one that will continue operating through a lifetime, and curiosity is a huge part of what drives that. Those who have strong ideas about what they want to play, now and in the future, are much more likely to continue playing, in my opinion.
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#1262529 - 09/04/09 05:38 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2846
Loc: UK.
Things are very different over here. Most kids will only practise if they are studying for an exam.
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#1262533 - 09/04/09 05:51 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
An amazing diversity of opinions here.

I realize that this has grown far beyond my original question about my son but please let me bring him up again. He's had the last month mostly off from lessons and is starting up again tomorrow. Given this, I've been thinking about how best to make the practice sessions enjoyable for him. He's been working on a piece called Jazz Blast and the other day when we'd finished the piece before I accidentally called it "Cheese Blast". This became a massive joke. For my kid, humour seems to really take the edge off of everything. He's an irreverent guy and really likes to make fun of things.

Anyway, I expect we'll stick with the RCM program - I take the point that these overly proscriptive programs can be...well... overly proscriptive. But I don't think he particularly minds playing whatever is put in front of him as long as the pressure is kept to a minimum and the best way to do this seems to be more joking around.

Maybe there's no one perfect way to do this - maybe the point is to tailor the practice session (or whatever we're going to call it) to the specific kid.
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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#1262550 - 09/04/09 06:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
This thread is very diverse indeed.

I think the type of teacher attracts the type of student. Almost all of my students are on the testing/competition track, and they practice almost exclusively their "test" pieces. Very few of them will ever ask me for anything else--or will have time for anything else, since theory takes up so much of their lesson time as they advanced to the more difficult levels (try explaining secondary dominants and half-diminished seventh chords to future non-music majors). Don't even get me started on the sight-reading and technique requirements...

Disney? My students don't have time for Disney. I'm just hoping that, if they really like Disney, they can find their own time after college to play whatever they want. But, by then, they'll be busy working or starting their own families.

Meanwhile, if I can keep their interest in piano and provide them with the musical skills necessary to play the piano well, I think I'm doing my job.
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#1262560 - 09/04/09 07:01 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I find the exams my students participate in to be quite flexible. They may have to play 3 pieces, but only one of them has to be from a specific list, and that list is HUGE and diverse! They can play pretty much anything they want until level 3 or 4, then start going into required time periods, but even at that, they can play jazzy things or movie themes as longs as they are at level.

I love being part of an organization. There is so much give and take and a variety of things my students can participate in besides exams.
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#1264251 - 09/07/09 08:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Minniemay]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
I was reading through all this material this afternoon and, after a pretty decent practise, thought I would post one last time. Today my son offered *me* a deal. The activation barrier seems to be at its greatest when he encounters something for the first time. Once he gets a little better, ie towards the end of the week, he's much more comfortable.

So the deal he offered was that when he's first learning a piece he would play it three times only, then, to make up he would work harder at scales. As the week goes by, he'll work harder on the piece and less on the scales. So, today he worked through the first two lines of 'Silly Argument' (his first assignment in RCM level 1) and played contrary motion scales the for the first time. As I say, he weirdly enjoys scales: after a half hour he could play C, G, D and A major through two octaves in CM which seems pretty good.

We'll see how it goes but this seems like a reasonable deal....
_________________________
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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#1264252 - 09/07/09 08:26 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
PS. I think the inspiration for this came from a suggestion someone made on this thread that each practicw session have a specific purpose. My kid seems to have liked this idea a lot. I forget whose suggestion this was but it seems to be a good one!
_________________________
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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#1264546 - 09/08/09 11:53 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

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.


Was this the part about "purpose" for each practice? I fully believe that students do their best when the analysis of the piece and the practicing plan is supervised by the teacher when the new piece of music appears for the first time. It horrifies me that students develop pieces on their own and get a weeks worth or more of practice without having adequately been prepared for working through the process they will use. Our students just don't have the necessary experience to use their wits when there are concepts that are new to them, but no one has explained what the new concepts are, nor shown how to do them yet.

Piano is an instrument - the human mind is an instrument - the body is an instrument - all need to understand their task in each piece of music, and all/each must be "driven" through the work requirement with intention, purpose and scrutiny.

That is IF you think of it as a game primarily using intelligence. And, IF you think of the accomplishments and control gained as where the REAL FUN lies.

It all comes down to SELF DISCIPLINE and being a mental and physical ATHLETE at the piano.

Maybe this will turn your son on so much that he never has an "off" switch! I hope so!

Betty Patnude

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#1264575 - 09/08/09 12:30 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5455
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
It horrifies me that students develop pieces on their own and get a weeks worth or more of practice without having adequately been prepared for working through the process they will use. Our students just don't have the necessary experience to use their wits when there are concepts that are new to them, but no one has explained what the new concepts are, nor shown how to do them yet.


It might be interesting to read the Hugh Sung thread here in the teachers forum for some different perspectives, not to mention different tones of voice, on how to approach making music.

Cathy
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#1264784 - 09/08/09 06:14 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
It horrifies me that students develop pieces on their own...
Many things horrify me - but this isn't one of them.
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#1264829 - 09/08/09 07:35 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Let me be a little more specific about what horrifies me, please:
That students never receive any help prior to taking a new piece of music home with them is what horrifies me. They are in our studios to take lessons and receive instruction. To me instruction means teaching the piece, giving practice instructions, and listening to the results at the next lesson when we go through the next set of instructions. I collaborate with all my students and we talk about the pieces in front of us. I am not the least bit comfortable with giving an assignment of any piece without looking at it together. I think I learned this through my first years of teaching: that mistakes that have been repeatedly made at home at practice do not come out easily - you have to work hard to remove them. Mistakes discourage the student. Especially when he has put his all into practicing them. I think mistakes are the beginning of excuse making time.

I am prepared to relinquish my viewpoint when I am satisfied that the student does have good work habits and does read the music well and does play musically and is constructively independent in having natural talents and acquired skills.

I have had more than enough transfer students sit at my piano who play a song through - not very well - and immediately turn the page to go to another song - they are satisfied with a poor showing - they don't want input from me - and they certainly didn't know how or want to practice this piece. Piano lessons and structured learning is something they don't know about. This is how they learned to approach new music and sit through a lesson. It horrifies me that some teachers take the money and do so little to contribute to the student's successful music study.

Getting poor results is the opposite of what "teaching", "learning" and "instruction" mean.

Maybe the word horrify means different things to us.

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#1264837 - 09/08/09 07:54 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5455
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I think mistakes are the beginning of excuse making time.


I learn from my mistakes.

Cathy
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#1264868 - 09/08/09 08:49 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jotur]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Cathy, you get all the sticky stars you want to put on your page for learning from your mistakes. That's a very valid use of sticky stars. thumb

I'm going to reinforce my unpopular position here just for the hell of it.

We all learn have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. I teach not to pay too much attention to the fact that you have made a mistake - it's equivalent in my world to a container of bubbles that kids blow through a wand. You see them, they pop, they're gone.

However, if the student knows they made a mistake, I teach them to find it. We listen, feel, and watch for it to happen again. We find out where it is, what it looks like on the music, review what we did to verify it is a mistake that needs fixing, how to fix it, repetition with good intentions immediately at lesson, follow through at home.

Most of my students take this part of lesson seriously enough that they go home and fix the "problem". It is very empowering to kids to be able to follow through with something like this. It seems to be important to them that they would do their best. They are not devastated with mistakes, nor do them dramatize them, nor do they ignore them. I'd say they are developing healthy habits.

I'd say the ongoing objective is to play carefully enough that mistakes don't creep into play in the first place. Sometimes mistakes are just a "digit confusion" - sometimes they are a misreading or accidental thought or move - sometimes they are a "gross mistake" where there is no control or thought guiding the piano player - "completely off" and "irritated" by it. Not the least bit helpful or productive. A "stop the music" moment.

However, not everyone is aware they have made mistakes. Some don't want to know. Some get angry if you tell them. Some even practice unknown mistakes until they become just about unbreakable habits.

Some people are happy playing piano mistakes and all.

When children make mistakes and enter into the excuse making routine, teachers are not doing them justice if we allow it to continue. Reality is a good counter to excuse making. Lord knows we've already heard all the excuses known to mankind.

There's not a thing can be done about adult excuse makers who are resistant to taking suggestions leading to a different approach.

So be it. It seems we all have to get their on our bellies or one way or another. The whole point seems to be happy while doing it. Hang in there.

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#1264884 - 09/08/09 09:19 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I have to say that in the end, it's all inane. You're teaching children to play the creations of other people. And here comes the inane part ... you're teaching them how to play it right.

Where's the creativity? Where's the joy? Oh yeah ... it comes from working hard and getting it "right."

Is it any wonder kids hate piano lessons? For the most part, they are forced by stupid but well meaning parents because they believe piano lessons will make them smarter - another belief that's not true.

I have nothing against children who want to learn how to play classical music. Although they are few and far between. My problem lies with parents who push it because they think it's somehow required to improve a child's life.

Substitute the accordion for piano and you'll see what I mean.
_________________________
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#1264894 - 09/08/09 09:42 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Substitute the accordion for piano and you'll see what I mean.


Hey, them's fightin' words to Monica. Watch out! grin
.
.
.

Betty,

Methinks you horrify easily! smile

I suspect your views are more attuned to the needs of elementary and intermediate level students who lack a solid technical foundation. Many teachers don't even want to hear a student stumble through the first sight reading of a piece. They may talk to them beforehand about difficulties they will encounter or about the structure of the piece and the composer's intent, but they don't want to start working seriously on the piece until the student has the basics in their hands.
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#1264909 - 09/08/09 10:10 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
Gary D -

I guess I should clarify my point about how my teacher chose all my music for me.

I don't think I would have known myself at age 12 the pedagogical soundness of starting with Bach 2-part Inventions, then progressing to 3-Part Inventions, leading up to Preludes and Fugues; or Beethoven Sonatas starting with Op 90, then Op 2 no 1, etc, saving Op 81a and the Wallstein until later and the late Beethoven until much later. With Chopin - starting with Waltzes and Nocturnes and the A major Polonaise, saving the four Ballades until later in high school. Concertos - my teacher knew Saint Saens and Gershwin Concerto in F suited my temperment as a teen. I probably wasn't ready to learn Rach 3 at that time even though I loved it and listened to it all time.

In other words, yes, I think a teacher can "guide" a student through choosing the repertoire that fits their skill level. The only time I felt like my interest was "killed" was when a teacher I had at age 9 had me learn the Moonlight Sonata, a piece much too difficult for me.

It's great that you were able to choose what you wanted to play from an early age. As a teacher, I still cringe when a beginner student comes in to a lesson and tells me they want to learn a piece that I know is beyond their skill level. Sometimes that's what it takes to make them practice...other times it's just too frustrating for the student. It's my job as a teacher to know when difficult is impossible, and introduce the student to a similar piece, something that is within their grasp.

~Catherine~
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#1264918 - 09/08/09 10:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Ed,

I wouldn't waste my breath advocating for good instruction and expecting great things from my piano students if I didn't have a following of enthusiastic parents and students over my years of teaching. I have created my circumstances based on my music teaching philosophies, my values, my experience, my ethics and my dream. I say strongly that my experience and circumstances of what I do work for me and for mine. We have plenty of creativity and imagination - I've been outside the box all my life. I just have learned to teach efficiently and effectively due to hard work and learning from my experiences as well as from other people.

Oh, yuck! Sorry I misapplied some of the bold, underline and italics...it got confusing as they don't actually show what you're doing - but subsets of b/u/i appear and I got lost without knowing how to remove them. (Horrifying experience! crazy)
[b][b]
[b][i]PianoDad said[/[/i]b]: "Many teachers don't even want to hear a student stumble through the first sight reading of a piece. They may talk to them beforehand about difficulties they will encounter or about the structure of the piece and the composer's intent, but they don't want to start working seriously on the piece until the student has the basics in their hands."
[/b]

You speak of exactly the situation that I say is horrifying to me, believe it or not. It is the rank beginners who need the kind of instruction I am talking about being needed by the students who have not had piano lessons before. It is next to impossible for kids to make progress on their own without guidance and structure.

I am getting tired of defending myself from others who do not hold the same viewpoints that I do. I don't mind if that's what you hold to be true for yourselves, but I don't think it's fair to take pot shots at teachers who are structured and work hard with their students to get results. [/b]
I wish parents were better grounded in their ability to choose piano teachers. If they were, I think that below average teachers would soon be out of business. So many sites allow students to enroll off the street and they get a weekly place in the studio on the bench. But, if the teacher isn't teaching but is just incubating the student, parents soon tire of getting little for their investment and they give up on lessons and their child all together when this child could have had a very strong teacher who would care about getting results. Creativity or not.

When you wait for the child to have a break through from his own self teaching you are stalling their progress. It may happen, it may not, if it doesn't happen the "casual" teacher is not going to care and certainly is not going to feel responsible for the outcome.

This smacks to me of marketing: enter the students, receive the fees, sit there, do very little, and wait for the child to develop to a place where you are interested in teaching him? You don't ever have to teach him under those circumstance -which are pretty good at earning power - but perhaps lousy in outcome. I bet money is saved on giving recitals and piano parties too if no student is ever prepared to do diddly-squat. And, you can always say you don't see the value in recitals, too. Just avoid all that 100%.

Apples should be compared to apples, oranges to oranges, don't you think?

Betty Patnude


Edited by Betty Patnude (09/08/09 10:26 PM)

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#1264919 - 09/08/09 10:23 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
Cathy Shefski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 16
Loc: NE Pennsylvania
Edward -

I'm a subscriber to your newsletter and I do happen to agree with you. There are many students who thrive on improvisation and I'm starting to incorporate it more and more in my teaching.

Then there are still some (like me) who swoon over a perfectly shaped phrase in a Chopin Nocturne or Rachmaninoff Etude. :}

~Catherine~
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#1264923 - 09/08/09 10:31 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Cathy Shefski]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5455
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Apples should be compared to apples, oranges to oranges, don't you think?


Why, yes, I do. But you don't say which you are talking about - you just make broad general statements, that don't apply to everyone, as if they *do* apply to everyone - apples, oranges, grapes, and kiwis.

Oh well.

Cathy
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#1264978 - 09/09/09 12:53 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
But, if the teacher isn't teaching but is just incubating the student, parents soon tire of getting little for their investment and they give up on lessons and their child all together when this child could have had a very strong teacher who would care about getting results. Creativity or not.

But it's not really about the parents is it? And if it is, it's pretty sad. And the results you talk about are little more than touch typing the right notes at the right time - getting it right. What other art does this?

I'd rather a child play tone clusters all day and express something original than learn how to play "Fur Elise" or some other composers work. I don't teach children, but if I did, I'd throw the classical curriculum out the window and teach them how to play what they feel - a skill infinitely more valuable than recreating a dead composers music.

And to answer the OP, motivation should come from within. It's like asking "how can I motivate my kid to play the accordion?" If they like the accordion, they'll play it. If not, they won't. Another instance of a parent expecting a child to be excited about something they just aren't jazzed about.
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#1264994 - 09/09/09 01:44 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Many teachers don't even want to hear a student stumble through the first sight reading of a piece. They may talk to them beforehand about difficulties they will encounter or about the structure of the piece and the composer's intent, but they don't want to start working seriously on the piece until the student has the basics in their hands.


Even for my advanced students, I'd like to walk them through the piece, section by section, getting the details right (notes, fingering, rhythm) because it's hard to un-do these mistakes if learned incorrectly. As for sections with difficulties, I will offer some technical suggestions, but I have to see what works--since each student plays differently.
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#1264995 - 09/09/09 01:47 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I'd rather a child play tone clusters all day and express something original than learn how to play "Fur Elise" or some other composers work.




Tone clusters? All day?? I'd go insane in 30 seconds. I don't like "Fur Elise," but I'd rather teach that than hear tone clusters all day long.
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#1265014 - 09/09/09 02:29 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Let me be a little more specific about what horrifies me, please:
That students never receive any help prior to taking a new piece of music home with them is what horrifies me. They are in our studios to take lessons and receive instruction. To me instruction means teaching the piece, giving practice instructions, and listening to the results at the next lesson when we go through the next set of instructions. I collaborate with all my students and we talk about the pieces in front of us. I am not the least bit comfortable with giving an assignment of any piece without looking at it together. I think I learned this through my first years of teaching: that mistakes that have been repeatedly made at home at practice do not come out easily - you have to work hard to remove them. Mistakes discourage the student. Especially when he has put his all into practicing them. I think mistakes are the beginning of excuse making time.

I am prepared to relinquish my viewpoint when I am satisfied that the student does have good work habits and does read the music well and does play musically and is constructively independent in having natural talents and acquired skills.

I have had more than enough transfer students sit at my piano who play a song through - not very well - and immediately turn the page to go to another song - they are satisfied with a poor showing - they don't want input from me - and they certainly didn't know how or want to practice this piece. Piano lessons and structured learning is something they don't know about. This is how they learned to approach new music and sit through a lesson. It horrifies me that some teachers take the money and do so little to contribute to the student's successful music study.

Getting poor results is the opposite of what "teaching", "learning" and "instruction" mean.

Maybe the word horrify means different things to us.


I think this is great advice. As they say "practice makes permanent". As long as students are still learning a style, are still learning motions/movements to create the right articulation and sound for that style, are still inexperienced in choosing good fingerings, are nonchalent about ensuring that each measure has the same number of beats or that rythyms are played as written, etc. etc. then work put in up front with student and teacher together is one of the best investments to be made:

Have the student slowly play the LH while the teacher plays RH and immediately gives feedback, corrects weird fingerings, etc. and marks up the score. Then change places and repeat. Give explicit instructions on what you want them to do and how between now and the next lesson and then ask them to show you what they would do at home to show they understand.

If you were teaching someone to knit, would you let them go home and produce a yard of ugly knots and uneven rows and then spend the next two months trying to pull the knots out or would you first go over the knitting process, the pattern, take a slow accurate start and get them going on something that will actually be usable for the end product in the end?

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#1265053 - 09/09/09 05:43 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: theJourney]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
eweiss - thanks for your valuable post - from now on my son will learn nothing but tone clusters, played on the accordian. I may pull him out of third grade as it is clearly wasted time learning the ideas of others. Especially others who are dead.
_________________________
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-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
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Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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#1265055 - 09/09/09 05:54 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
keyboardklutz Offline
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#1265071 - 09/09/09 07:08 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I have to say that in the end, it's all inane. You're teaching children to play the creations of other people. And here comes the inane part ... you're teaching them how to play it right.

Where's the creativity? Where's the joy? Oh yeah ... it comes from working hard and getting it "right."

Is it any wonder kids hate piano lessons? For the most part, they are forced by stupid but well meaning parents because they believe piano lessons will make them smarter - another belief that's not true.

I have nothing against children who want to learn how to play classical music. Although they are few and far between. My problem lies with parents who push it because they think it's somehow required to improve a child's life.

Substitute the accordion for piano and you'll see what I mean.


eweiss,

You've said the same thing enough by this point, that I believe we all get it.

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#1265101 - 09/09/09 08:38 AM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Phlebas]
Lollipop Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
There are lots of things in Eweiss's post I'd like to respond to - like stupid parents. But for now, I'll stick with the concept of learning to read a dead white guy's music.

Reading a piece of music (classical or otherwise) is a lot like reading a book. I love to read, and am especially fond of fiction. Other people like other genres; so be it. I don't believe that reading what someone else has written takes away my creativity. In fact, I find just the opposite. When I hear what someone else has to say, and how they say it, and how it makes me feel, then I am able to take that and use it when I have something I want to say in writing.

I wouldn't dream of taking a child who is learning to read and telling them that reading other people's stuff is going to squash their creativity. In fact, well after I was a good reader, my teachers were foisting things like Shakespeare and Hawthorne on me. Rather than destroy my ability to create, I believe it helped.

We've all had teachers who spent so much time on diagramming sentences that they took all the joy out of reading and writing. When I am teaching my piano students, we talk not only about which notes and rhythms are right - we talk about what the composer might have wanted to say, and how he said it.

When I am introducing the concept of "artistry" (in PA books), we talk about movie music. We talk about how we know when the scary parts are coming, or when the prince is going to kiss the princess. We talk about how different sounds make us feel happy or sad.

I am very conscious of the fact that lots of rules and structure might conflict with creativity. To this end, I encourage kids to experiment with keyboard sounds, even to write their own music. There is a lot to be learned from "playing." But I also ask them to do this as dessert after they've practiced their assigned lesson.

I had an English teacher once who explained that e. e. cummings was allowed to use lower case improperly only AFTER he understood the rules of language, and since we weren't there yet, we had to capitalize. Since I only teach beginners, my students are still learning the rules. I expect them to play pieces as the composer intended. I tell them that if they have something different to say, they need to write their own. Some of my students take me up on it.
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#1265322 - 09/09/09 01:42 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Phlebas]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Phlebas
eweiss,

You've said the same thing enough by this point, that I believe we all get it.

Interesting way to tell someone to shut up. Nice.
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#1265325 - 09/09/09 01:43 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: jnod
eweiss - thanks for your valuable post - from now on my son will learn nothing but tone clusters, played on the accordian. I may pull him out of third grade as it is clearly wasted time learning the ideas of others. Especially others who are dead.

Priceless!
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#1265328 - 09/09/09 01:51 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: jnod
eweiss - thanks for your valuable post - from now on my son will learn nothing but tone clusters, played on the accordian. I may pull him out of third grade as it is clearly wasted time learning the ideas of others. Especially others who are dead.

You're welcome jnod. At least by playing tone clusters, your son will experience first hand the joy of creating something instead of recreating dead music. As far as pulling him out of school, that might not be a bad idea either as most schools won't teach your child the most important skill of all - how to think for yourself.
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#1265358 - 09/09/09 02:49 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
theJourney Offline
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Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: eweiss
most schools won't teach your child the most important skill of all - how to think for yourself.


advantage eweiss

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#1265374 - 09/09/09 03:13 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: theJourney]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: eweiss
most schools won't teach your child the most important skill of all - how to think for yourself.


advantage eweiss
Yeh, but they do babysit.
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#1265378 - 09/09/09 03:18 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: theJourney]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: eweiss
most schools won't teach your child the most important skill of all - how to think for yourself.

advantage eweiss


theJourney:

You have a very skewed view of American public education. From what I have observed (over 20 public schools and over 100 master teachers), there is a lot of excellent teaching going on. The focus in these classrooms is critical thinking. The fact-based education system has given way to teaching thinking and problem-solving skills.

I wish people will stop blaming teachers for all the problems.
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#1265410 - 09/09/09 04:16 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: AZNpiano]
theJourney Offline
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Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: eweiss
most schools won't teach your child the most important skill of all - how to think for yourself.

advantage eweiss


theJourney:

You have a very skewed view of American public education. From what I have observed (over 20 public schools and over 100 master teachers), there is a lot of excellent teaching going on. The focus in these classrooms is critical thinking. The fact-based education system has given way to teaching thinking and problem-solving skills.

I wish people will stop blaming teachers for all the problems.


Doctors do not take all the blame for the dysfunctional health care system just as teachers do not take all the blame for the sub-performing educational system. It is sub-performing just the same...

Quote:

Studies have shown that our students abilities in math and science begin on level with students in other countries, but then progressively decrease as they make their way through our educational system. By the end of high school, United States students rank among the lowest in the industrialized world in math and science achievement. We in introductory college science education inherit these students and have to deal with their deficiencies in scientific and critical thinking.
...
In retrospect, it seems obvious that when the information content of a discipline increases, it becomes even more vital to spend time, not learning more information, but learning methods to acquire, understand, and evaluate this information and the great amount of new information that is not known now but will surely follow. Frankly, it is counterproductive to simply memorize and learn more new and isolated facts when future facts may eventually displace these. Thus, our science education policy has been completely backward, teaching more science facts and less scientific method rather than the converse.

http://www.freeinquiry.com/critical-thinking.html

Quote:


Contemporary American schooling contains a severe miscalculation of what constitutes an effective product. This breach lies within the difference of automation versus education. The dictionary definition of education reads:

1.the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.


Now compared to that of critical thinking:

The mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.


Fundamentally, education is a guide towards the skill of critical thinking. And, as of today, we have forgotten the fundamentals of education and thinking. How does this lack of education effect our society? This answer is found in the intended results of teaching critical thinking, which follows a four point cycle:

1. Gathering information; from several sources and paying special homage to evading bias.
2. Evaluating and reflecting; attaching and assessing the weight of different evidence.
3. Conceiving; indifference and tolerance are divided by pronouncement.
4. Dissemination; offering ideas for critique and synthesis.

The effects of this education help form thought founded on curiosity, skepticism, analysis and openness. From this point, human achievement is only limited by human knowledge. It is a process of how to think, rather than what to think. Obversely, the absence of critical thinking produces opportunity for indoctrination. And from here, humanity is left to the spectacle of its own malice. Society is robbed of achieving the great heights of which consciousness allow. For light is not the absence of darkness, but the overcoming of it. However, critical thinking does not play a prominent role in America's public school system. It rather centralizes on memorization, reiteration, and adherence to strict scheduling. These are the qualities of machines; to be defined by these standards requires the expulsion of humanity.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=219x6788


Edited by theJourney (09/09/09 04:18 PM)

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#1265421 - 09/09/09 04:44 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: theJourney]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Excellent post, theJourney!

I completely agree with the definitions of education and critical thinking. This is a very valuable document for all people in education, but very much so as it completely applies to the teaching of piano.

Critical thinking skills are what I apply to my teaching from the beginning and throughout our associations. The students discover themselves as musicians based on the instruction guiding them to conclusions in thinking and in doing. The test of this is that they either can do what has been the subject matter or they cannot.

Education and critical thinking are being absolved from the equation of what we aspire to do with our students by a vocal group of people who do not have the experiences in music that many of us have received - we are in different spots.

The ones who see it as fun and enjoyment have lost the perspective that it is first serious thinking skills and bodily physical coordination control coming from the brain.

The fun enjoyment is not of the first issue it is a benefit, a reward, a complement to the psyche for doing well in the endeavor of learning and acquiring skills in thinking and doing.

It is complexity at it's most achieving.

We forget that playing even one note well is a study in many things. You don't just reach out and hit a note on the keyboard if you are an informed and intelligent musician. Add more notes to the equation and the pace and accountability of it is endless.

Piano playing requires ambition, a huge mind set for discipline and accountability, and a spiritual being willing to bring their music making to life from their innermost depths.

This is the place from which I teach. I really should put the Plato quote back into my signature as it has been my guiding light throughout most of my life. Music has been with us since the beginning with universal vibratory communication linking humans with the universe. We need to keep this in mind, I think.

Betty Patnude

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#1265437 - 09/09/09 05:41 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Betty Patnude]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
The students discover themselves as musicians based on the instruction guiding them to conclusions in thinking and in doing. The test of this is that they either can do what has been the subject matter or they cannot.

This isn't what I would call "discovering oneself as a musician." I'd call it monkey see, monkey do. If musicianship means playing something verbatim from sheet music, then what's the point? Turning out carbon copy students who can touch type the right notes at the right time? Wow. Now that's what I call a real musician.
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#1265441 - 09/09/09 05:53 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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eweiss,

You've said the same thing enough by this point, that I believe we all get it.

.
.
.

Oh, wait, Phlebas already said that!


I've recently listened to at least six different versions of Chopin's etude in F minor (10/9). My limited intelligence suggests to me that the six different monke... , ah, artists, who played it brought very different ideas to the table.

Your continued hammering away at the futility of playing other people's written music is, well, beginning to go into the 'ignore' box. A repeated assertion lacking any sympathy for other peoples' POV begins to grate. It doesn't lead to converts either.
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#1265453 - 09/09/09 06:30 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
eweiss,I've recently listened to at least six different versions of Chopin's etude in F minor (10/9). My limited intelligence suggests to me that the six different monke... , ah, artists, who played it brought very different ideas to the table.

Your continued hammering away at the futility of playing other people's written music is, well, beginning to go into the 'ignore' box. A repeated assertion lacking any sympathy for other peoples' POV begins to grate. It doesn't lead to converts either.

I didn't say it was futile. To each his own. And I have just as much right to express my opinion as do other teachers here. As far as your statment about "six different artists" guess what? They aren't artists. An artist creates something original. A concert pianist recreates an original work and puts his slight interpretive spin on it. Wow. That's really artistic isn't it?

And by the way, I'm not looking for converts. I know my opinion isn't the most popular here. But my "truth" is mine to express. You don't have to like it.
_________________________
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#1265463 - 09/09/09 06:52 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1785
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: eweiss
An artist creates something original.


So since the following Rembrandt is simply a recreation of something that exists, do you not consider this art as well? Just curious where you draw the line. Are we just merely arguing terms, an "artist" vs a "performer" when referring to pianists? Is there enough interpretation in performance to transcend simple performance and elevate it to art as some might argue that even though Rembrandt is acting as a human camera that the result is art?


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#1265472 - 09/09/09 07:09 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: bitWrangler]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Hi Bitwrangler,

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.

Didn't we have this discussion before? A kid fingerpainting is creating art. A writer freewriting is creating art. A pianist improvising is creating art. If it's original and from the indiviual it is art.

Now, whether it's "good" or not is an entirely different subject. Creating and recreating are two different things. Imagine a painter copying the pretty picture you posted here. Now imagine an art teacher trying to illustrate to a student the correct way to paint that same picture. This is the same thing as a piano teacher teaching students how to play Beethoven.

Sorry if that's insulting, but it seems pretty obvious that this is exactly what's being done. Which is why I have such a strong reaction to traditional piano teaching.
_________________________
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#1265473 - 09/09/09 07:09 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: bitWrangler]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Quote:
I didn't say it was futile. To each his own.


Thanks!

Quote:
And I have just as much right to express my opinion as do other teachers here.


No doubt!

Quote:
As far as your statment about "six different artists" guess what? They aren't artists. An artist creates something original. A concert pianist recreates an original work and puts his slight interpretive spin on it. Wow. That's really artistic isn't it?


your usual snarky dismissal of what you devalue.

Quote:
And by the way, I'm not looking for converts. I know my opinion isn't the most popular here. But my "truth" is mine to express. You don't have to like it.


Why engage here if you are not interested in sharing, learning, and perhaps persuading? Sharing tends to work better when alternative opinions are treated with a modicum of respect. Persuasion seems out of the question.

Ah, entertainment at fireworks! That's the ticket.
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#1265477 - 09/09/09 07:18 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
Interesting. When someone doesn't like what you have to say they call it "snarky." Pianodad, it seems you are the one with the attitude.

Don't like what I have to say? Fine. Click away. I will continue to express my thoughts regardless of your approval.
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#1265479 - 09/09/09 07:19 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
What a pity, then, eweiss, if someone truly creative (in your terms) were to compose a piece for orchestra. He would then be condemning all those orchestral players to a lesser existence of mere recreation in order to bring his creation to life. I don't know how he would live with himself. smile
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#1265480 - 09/09/09 07:21 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: currawong
What a pity, then, eweiss, if someone truly creative (in your terms) were to compose a piece for orchestra. He would then be condemning all those orchestral players to a lesser existence of mere recreation in order to bring his creation to life. I don't know how he would live with himself. smile

You're right.
_________________________
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#1265481 - 09/09/09 07:24 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
currawong Offline
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So he should just stick to improvising new-agey music on the piano. So much for giving creativity full rein...
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1265489 - 09/09/09 07:34 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: currawong
So he should just stick to improvising new-agey music on the piano. So much for giving creativity full rein...

I don't get why this topic is so hard to understand. It doesn't matter WHAT is created. The idea of art is it's original. That's a revolutionary concept isn't it? New Age, jazz, classcial ... what does it matter?
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#1265496 - 09/09/09 07:48 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
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Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I don't get why this topic is so hard to understand. It doesn't matter WHAT is created. The idea of art is it's original. That's a revolutionary concept isn't it? New Age, jazz, classcial ... what does it matter?
As long as it's only for one performer - that's the point I was making. If you want to create original music for more than yourself to play, you've got a problem, haven't you.

It's not the kind of music we're talking about which creates the disagreement here. Our difference lies in this: I can see the value in what you do, but apparently you can't see the value in what I do.

And by the way, I can improvise, I encourage my students to improvise, and I compose. So when I'm performing one of my pieces (previously written down) am I being creative or am I just a typewriter?
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#1265510 - 09/09/09 08:09 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: eweiss
Interesting. When someone doesn't like what you have to say they call it "snarky." Pianodad, it seems you are the one with the attitude.


ah, welcome to middle school logic.

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.


I just don't understand how you can miss that the second sentence is anything but snarky. You don't have a conversation. You aggressively devalue what anyone else says. Why?

Sorry, but bitWrangler has a point. Art is often the world of creating within a box. For the classical musician, the box often is the written piece. For the composer, the box is the form .... sonata, for instance. For the painter, the box is the visual world that is being recreated by their use of learned techniques.

We may think that the composer has a greater degree of originality and spark than the 'mere' musician who recreates the composer's efforts. We may think that the visual artist who breaks the bonds of the former generation's boundaries is gifted in comparison to his or her contemporaries (or not, depending on our tastes). But the desire to squash or devalue what others do is really off putting, at least to me. The skills of the concert classical pianist are worth celebrating, yet it seems you treat them with sarcasm and condescension (as unoriginal and unworthy of much respect).
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#1265513 - 09/09/09 08:13 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
jnod Offline
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Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
When I was in university (1980s) I spent a lot of my spare time going to see experimental films - this was at the Innis College Film Society at the University of Toronto - perhaps there's someone else out there who remembers that scene. Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage (who I do believe was a genius - unwatchable for the most part if you're me, but definitely an artist) and the like. I had a bunch of very intelligent friends who I really wanted to impress, including in particular a girl naturally enough given that I was 22.

I recall watching a 4 hour film one evening - I don’t remember who directed it - that consisted of a very lengthy series of blurry, unfocused images moving around rhythmically. It was hypnotic at times but ultimately, it was extremely tedious and try as I might I really struggled to see anything worthwhile in it at all. At one point the visual field, almost miraculously, came into focus on the wall of a tenement building, with the sun reflecting strongly off of a window. The ability to actually focus on something for the first time in hours was positively elating and an incredible relief. Then, an instant later, the focus was lost and it was back to rhythmic smudges of pure light. I spent a lot of evenings watching these films.

My favourite part of those evenings was that, during the lead up to many of the showings, the organizers played a recording of one or more of the Bach solo cello partitas, usually from the Yoyo Ma recording (though I prefer the Pablo Casals personally). There was a really interesting counterpoint between the very precise interpretation of what I think is the greatest music ever written, and these strange films that challenged all assumptions about art and esthetics.
_________________________
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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#1265518 - 09/09/09 08:19 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
birchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Vancouver
Artists acknowledge their forbearers (Boccacio > Dante, Bob Dylan > Pete Seeger, the list is endless...)

Only dilettantes think their all their poo is new, and that is what makes them so special...

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#1265519 - 09/09/09 08:22 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: birchy]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: birchy
Artists acknowledge their forbearers (Boccacio > Dante, Bob Dylan > Pete Seeger, the list is endless...)

Only dilettantes think their all their poo is new, and that is what makes them so special...

No kidding.
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#1265523 - 09/09/09 08:24 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: currawong]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I don't get why this topic is so hard to understand. It doesn't matter WHAT is created. The idea of art is it's original. That's a revolutionary concept isn't it? New Age, jazz, classcial ... what does it matter?
As long as it's only for one performer - that's the point I was making. If you want to create original music for more than yourself to play, you've got a problem, haven't you.

It's not the kind of music we're talking about which creates the disagreement here. Our difference lies in this: I can see the value in what you do, but apparently you can't see the value in what I do.

And by the way, I can improvise, I encourage my students to improvise, and I compose. So when I'm performing one of my pieces (previously written down) am I being creative or am I just a typewriter?


Currawong, I totally respect you. These are just my thoughts and opinions - contrary to what many hold here. I see the value in what you do as well! I just feel passionately about this particular topic.

I'm not trying to convert anyone. But as I read through many of the posts on this forum, I get irked from time to time. Just like many of you do when reading mine.
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#1265525 - 09/09/09 08:27 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Piano*Dad]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
The skills of the concert classical pianist are worth celebrating, yet it seems you treat them with sarcasm and condescension (as unoriginal and unworthy of much respect).

They are worth celebrating. They also are unoriginal. Pretty snarky huh?
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#1265530 - 09/09/09 08:33 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Yep, as unoriginal as 99.999% of whatever anyone else in this world is doing .... except, perhaps, for the tone clusters someone is banging out in order to be original.

I think your focus on 'originality' is getting definitional and semantic, and that is tedious.
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#1265570 - 09/09/09 10:09 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: eweiss]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: eweiss

A concert pianist recreates an original work and puts his slight interpretive spin on it. Wow. That's really artistic isn't it?

I don't entirely disagree with all your points, but there are specific situations in which an interpreter has done far more than put a slight spin on something.

I do think this is mostly likely to happen shortly after something has been composed, and the amount of spin that is added is also greatly dependent on the perfomance ability of the composer, if he is alive, and the imagination of the performer.

For instance, Rachmaninov's "spin" on the music of people like Chopin was much greater than "slight". To play Devil's Advocate in your favor, I'd say the extreme orginality of his playing of other people's music stemmed from his own composer-mentality. And I would have considered him an artist, based on his playing of other people's music, if he had never composed anything.

In the same way, if you compose something, and someone else takes your music and does something original or inspiring in a way that makes you take a new look at your music, something that inspires you, then I think the line between interpretation and creativity becomes very blurred.
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#1265585 - 09/09/09 10:37 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
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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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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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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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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


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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


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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]
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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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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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#1439401 - 05/18/10 11:09 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
currawong Offline
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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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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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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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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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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.
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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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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.
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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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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
-------
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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#1439796 - 05/19/10 03:14 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: jnod]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jnod
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.

My only point was that we can't assume that *everyone* is going to enjoy doing *anything*. However, I would say that in most cases children start out, at the very least, nuetral. In other words, many small children have no idea what piano is, or what practicing an instrument will be like. Some of my most eager students have been those who did not ask for lessons but who were not against the idea either. Usually they develop a very positive attitude within the first two or three months.

By the way, adults beginners also have (usually) very little idea of what it means to practice an instrument.
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#1439816 - 05/19/10 03:47 PM Re: how to motivate my son to practice? [Re: Gary D.]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

My only point was that we can't assume that *everyone* is going to enjoy doing *anything*. However, I would say that in most cases children start out, at the very least, nuetral. In other words, many small children have no idea what piano is, or what practicing an instrument will be like. Some of my most eager students have been those who did not ask for lessons but who were not against the idea either. Usually they develop a very positive attitude within the first two or three months.

By the way, adults beginners also have (usually) very little idea of what it means to practice an instrument.


Haha... I think if you effectively combined these two thoughts together you'd get;

Adult beginners (and many adults in general, too, I believe) have very little idea of how to practice.
Kids generally have an innate excitement about music, follow their instincts and actually practice very well when we let them.

Then, the adults who have no idea what it means to practice, quickly proceed to try to tell kids (who probably "practice" better just by instinct) "No don't do it like that! This is the way you practice!"
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