Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#1269803 - 09/17/09 09:19 AM Unrealistic expectations
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Hi all,
I realize that I have to somehow temper my own good intentions. Yesterday, I had a totally disappointing experience with one of my more puzzling students.

She is 8 years old and is beginning her second year of study with me. Last year, I had many problems getting her to focus during the lessons. We used Faber PA primer level. She often had challenges in keeping her fingers in the same position throughout the songs (they used to slip from one key to the next), or she always wanted to sing the lyrics while she played. I didn't have a problem with this per se, but I wanted her to really have the songs finished before trying to add the singing. I felt she was trying to do too much, too soon by adding the singing. Upon reflection, I could have had her sing the lyrics while I played the song first, to give her an idea of how the song was supposed to sound, but I just thought of that now. frown

I struggled with getting her to look at the book and play the music. She had a tendency to memorize the music and then play it. I had a lot of trouble adapting to her. At the end of our second semester together, we performed the duet of "Partners at C" at the student recital. She was triumphant!! We spent a few weeks together during the summer, but we never completed her lessons. (She is a scholarship student where I teach outside the home).

I looked forward to her return yesterday with much enthusiasm. I always feel like I improve as a teacher, so I was ready to do some review with her, and try to finish the primer level sometime this year. It is good to have a goal in mind, isn't it? Yesterday, she returned to lessons and forgot.everything.we.did.together. She forgot everything from the music alphabet to all of her note values. I was so disappointed.. for a second I thought I was being punk'd.

This is my first experience with having a student retain so little over summer break. I'm going to have to repeat the whole primer level with her. She just may not be interested in piano.. she's talked to me about taking up the flute in school. I do hope that works out for her. This is a case where I wish I could sit in on someone else's lessons. Perhaps there is something that her school music teacher will do with her that will "stick".

Here, I see I'm a victim of my own unrealistic expectations. I need to learn to lighten up and take things very slowly with her.

I do not want to diagnose this student, but I guess I just wanted to vent. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, things don't always work, eh?

*sigh*
BevP

Top
(ad) My Music Staff
Check out the new way to manage your music studio
#1269824 - 09/17/09 10:08 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Bev, I'm guessing she retained a lot more than you realize, but not exactly what you have in mind. For one thing, she probably has a really positive attitude towards lessons, which counts for a whole lot.

I'm not totally clear where she's at, but doesn't the PA level one have what is essentially a review of primer material? For the sake of her psyche, I would probably start level one, but use a lot of supplemental material to make sure she gets the basics well founded. You might look for supplemental material without words.

As she likes duets, why not find an appropriate level duet book and use that to supplement as well?
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

Top
#1269832 - 09/17/09 10:25 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
I teach through the summer but I did have one student who took a summer break. I had her less then a year and she was at the end of PA primer. She came back and couldn’t find middle C. I put sticky notes on several pages of her Primer books and gave her a list of review concepts. She came back and remembered everything. Phew. I was worried.

It is so hard to give advice on a forum like this as we don’t know the whole story and you know your student best. I have found that students struggle with all of those issue you talked about. I would say about 50% of beginners struggle with keeping fingers on the keys. Especially those who show quick processing speed. It is a problem now but will translate into a strength later.

Studies have indicated that the thought processes required to learn a second language are similar to learning piano. When someone learns a language they my struggle at first and then one day it “CLICKS” They start thinking in the other language and even dreaming. I find a similar testimony with students. We work for a year and every song is carefully thought out and counted and then, almost overnight, they make a huge leap and it all starts coming very easy.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


Top
#1269836 - 09/17/09 10:32 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: John v.d.Brook]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1787
Loc: Central TX
Bev, did you talk to her parents before the summer break about things that they could do to help keep at least some of what she learned fresh in her head. Also, have you spoken to the parents now about what happened, how it's a waste of their money and you and the kids time when something like this happens and what their goals are for the daughter? If they have a laissez faire attitude towards her lessons, then that at least provides you with valuable info on how to set your own expectations and that you may have to work as much on practice skills and routine as you do playing.

Top
#1269842 - 09/17/09 10:43 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: Mrs.A]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Well, Bev, I think that generally when a student does not have consistent lessons over the summer, the first month is review. The first lesson with students, I will test them to see what has been retained, but I don't expect much. I have a girl very much like yours, who opted out of summer lessons. She is very ear-oriented and loves to sing the lyrics. I encourage this, because it's her love of music that drives her to do so. If she can get the sound of how the music should be in her ears, then it will show in her playing.

Take some time to review note reading with her through games, flash cards, computer theory programs, etc. Keep it interesting in this time of review. It will come back faster than it took to learn it the first time. There is no need to go over songs she already learned except for the last few at this point.

Speak with her about goals for the year: where does she want to end up at the end of the year? She may not have any idea, but it is always good to ask. Then you can tell her what you'd like to do. Finish off primer by the end of the semester (she shouldn't be in this for two years!). How can this be accomplished? By completing 2-3 songs per week. How do you do that? By practicing every day no matter what. Get a commitment from her to do something at the piano every day, even if it's only for 5 minutes. Even if it's only "doodling"! If she can do more, then that's a bonus! Let her mom or dad know what you discussed, and put the goals you agree to in writing. That way, the parents are on board, and you can enlist their help.

With my student like yours, she told me that while she didn't practice over the summer, she did a lot of doodling. I told her that was great, and that when she comes across a cool idea, she should try to remember it or write it down and play it for me. That is her assignment for next time, to "doodle" and play the best idea that she came up with for me. Her dad will help her write it down so she won't forget it. One of our goals is going to be to compose a piece this year to be performed at next year's Composers Debut recital, and possibly submitted to WMTA's composition contest (she really liked the possibility of winning money for her piece!).

Also, have a performance opportunity for her as a goal. Do you have a recital first semester? Do you participate in MTNA auditions in your state? Having to play two pieces from memory and take a simple theory test would be a great motivator, and she will feel so good for being able to do it.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1269882 - 09/17/09 11:50 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: Morodiene]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Hi,
As always, I appreciate all of your input...
I will focus on reviewing for the rest of this month with her. By the end of our summer lessons, she was just beginning to read the notes on the staff. Faber's first tunes just use middle C, treble G and maybe, bass C, where we'd left off in the primer level book. Even at the expense of her psyche, I don't think she's ready for level 1. The beginning review piece in the level 1 book uses all the notes in C position in the R.H.. This student is not there yet. The duet book is a good idea, though, as well as the supplemental pieces that don't have the words to distract her.

I didn't get a chance to address what the Mom should do over the summer, but I have to call the Mom about some other business early next week before our lesson. I'll be sure to talk to her about this when we speak. Hopefully, we will, and I won't just get her answering machine. This student is a scholarship student, so it's not about wasting $.. it's about wasting the opportunity to study.

Also, I do totally agree about putting the sticker notes in the primer book and putting more responsibility on the student to review!! I will write down all of these ideas and keep them with me.

Again, I think I have a history of too high expectations from my students. I didn't expect this student to remember everything, but I thought she'd remember something!! We said the letter names while playing the white keys from the lowest A to the highest C probably 3 times at yesterday's lesson. I had to stop her at every G and remind her to start the alphabet over again, to reinforce the music alphabet concept. When I asked her to do this by herself, she still said, "H, I, J..." after she stopped on G. And, we stopped and started over again.

Upon reflection, the lessons she did seem to remember are the ones where I used the colorful card sets.. Music Mind Games. But these cards and things are to be used only as games away from the piano.. not as teaching aides in the traditional sense.

Anyway, I digress. I will take the time to speak with the student myself before the next lesson begins, so we can discuss what we want to do, and what is expected of her. We did complete the review of one song yesterday, and I did ask her to practice it 5 minutes a day. There is a performance opportunity for her in December. We will work towards that, for sure. I think she enjoyed playing last time, despite the nerves.

Thanks for your input, everyone..
BevP


Edited by BSP (09/17/09 11:56 AM)
Edit Reason: because I keep thinking of stuff

Top
#1269914 - 09/17/09 12:39 PM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Games away form the piano aren't a bad thing. A young mind like this one may enjoy the change of pace, and certainly she will be learning. Approaching the same concepts in different ways helps to reinforce them.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1270138 - 09/17/09 07:10 PM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: Morodiene]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Oh, I understand the value of being off the bench! The games are fun.. I enjoy playing them with the kids (don't have kids of my own). They don't realize that they're learning as well. I find it hard to balance the games with the time at the bench, though...

BevP

Top
#1270171 - 09/17/09 08:26 PM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Sometimes little interrupts to the lesson bring relief to and make teacher and student laugh or feel better. Things just pop into my mind at lessons that seem appropriate at the moment. Some are really spontaneous things I'm thinking for the first time, and others are things I've learned to interject in certain situations.

On Wednesday, an 8 year old 3 yr student was having a bumpy time with hands together coordination. She was moving forward well, but with little hesitations that threw the rhythm and steady tempo off. We stopped to talk about it.

I said, "You know the road that you come in on has 5 speed bumps that you have to slow way down for and your Mom's car goes up and over the top and then down on the other side? Then you turn the corner and come down our road even more slowly because of the gravel? Then you turn in our driveway even more slowly because it turns and stops in front of the grass where you park?"
She was avidly following the "trip" and shaking her head "Yes!" And then she said "What's gravel?" So after answering that ("little bits of chopped up rock"), I said "When you leave and get in Mom's car, look down at your feel and you'll see gravel." "OK, I will!"

So the point I was trying to make is that things like speed bumps and gravel road make it harder to travel on then the roads that carry the faster traffic. Comparing her playing and stopping and playing again as finding in the music something that feels like a speed bump or the gravel road. It is when we are having that problem that we have to work to fix it so that we can travel to our destination without the bumpiness.

This took about 5 minutes in all and may have been a significant lesson for her as the associations with the speed bump and gravel have been her weekly experiences for the past 25 months.

So the weeks assignment included this song with back to hands alone for more practice and preparation of the tasks and then the hands together again at a slightly slower tempo so you would have better control of a steady beat.

Something to think about when the road gets bumpy.

Betty

Top
#1270364 - 09/18/09 07:45 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: Betty Patnude]
BSP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 209
Loc: Hudson Valley, NY
Hi Betty,
I love those intuitive moments.. where you can make an analogy that the student can follow and make the connection to their work! Don't you just love when that happens?

I hope to have more of those moments with this student in the future. Being disappointed at what's gone on in the past isn't going to do too much good. When I posted, I was still reeling from the shock. I have to look forward to the next lesson and what I can do differently. The first thing will be to relax and take my time with her. If we have to start from square one, so be it. It's about where we "are", not where we "should" be.

Very zen of me, wouldn't you say? smile

Just to share a spontaneous experience of my own, I have an intermediate student who is learning the Kuhlau, Op. 55 C major sonatina first movement. IIRC, around the 7th or 8th measure, you have a V-I cadence in quarter notes, then he introduces a new idea, beginning with a scale pattern. After I played the cadence for the student (to explain the theory behind the cadence and the new idea), I spontaneously sang, "and now I'm doing something new".. and it fit exactly with the rhythmic pattern of the scale leading to the new motive.
The student looked at me as if to say, "how cool!".. I was surprised that the lyrics I sang fit.. and I thought it was kinda cool, too! smile

BevP

Top
#1270405 - 09/18/09 09:46 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: BSP
Hi Betty,
I love those intuitive moments.. where you can make an analogy that the student can follow and make the connection to their work! Don't you just love when that happens?

I hope to have more of those moments with this student in the future. Being disappointed at what's gone on in the past isn't going to do too much good. When I posted, I was still reeling from the shock. I have to look forward to the next lesson and what I can do differently. The first thing will be to relax and take my time with her. If we have to start from square one, so be it. It's about where we "are", not where we "should" be.

Very zen of me, wouldn't you say? smile

Just to share a spontaneous experience of my own, I have an intermediate student who is learning the Kuhlau, Op. 55 C major sonatina first movement. IIRC, around the 7th or 8th measure, you have a V-I cadence in quarter notes, then he introduces a new idea, beginning with a scale pattern. After I played the cadence for the student (to explain the theory behind the cadence and the new idea), I spontaneously sang, "and now I'm doing something new".. and it fit exactly with the rhythmic pattern of the scale leading to the new motive.
The student looked at me as if to say, "how cool!".. I was surprised that the lyrics I sang fit.. and I thought it was kinda cool, too! smile

BevP


That's great! And I bet whenever this student plays that section he will sing it in his head. LOL! I twill even help him memorize that part laugh.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#1270964 - 09/19/09 10:08 AM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
Karisofia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 201
Loc: Wisconsin
Bev, I think you will discover she "relearns" the primer material quickly. I had a student this year who did well before summer break but came back having forgotten many things. A couple review songs and a week have put us almost back on track.

In your OP, you mentioned she likes to sing with the pieces. I have some students like that as well. I think it may be important to let them sing along even when the playing isn't quite ready. It all goes to how they process the music and what is important to them. If you can find some songs that incorporate musical concepts into the lyrics--even better.

The first Treasures in Technique book (Wynn-Anne Rossi?) starts with just the guide notes. That would be a way of both reviewing and moving forward since the technique in those books is very good.

Rebecca
_________________________
Private Teacher
Member MTNA, WMTA, CVMTA
Local Association President
The Achievement Program Center Representative

Top
#1271156 - 09/19/09 04:39 PM Re: Unrealistic expectations [Re: BSP]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: BSP
Hi Betty,
I love those intuitive moments.. where you can make an analogy that the student can follow and make the connection to their work! Don't you just love when that happens?

I hope to have more of those moments with this student in the future. Being disappointed at what's gone on in the past isn't going to do too much good. When I posted, I was still reeling from the shock. I have to look forward to the next lesson and what I can do differently. The first thing will be to relax and take my time with her. If we have to start from square one, so be it. It's about where we "are", not where we "should" be.

Very zen of me, wouldn't you say? smile

Just to share a spontaneous experience of my own, I have an intermediate student who is learning the Kuhlau, Op. 55 C major sonatina first movement. IIRC, around the 7th or 8th measure, you have a V-I cadence in quarter notes, then he introduces a new idea, beginning with a scale pattern. After I played the cadence for the student (to explain the theory behind the cadence and the new idea), I spontaneously sang, "and now I'm doing something new".. and it fit exactly with the rhythmic pattern of the scale leading to the new motive.
The student looked at me as if to say, "how cool!".. I was surprised that the lyrics I sang fit.. and I thought it was kinda cool, too! smile

BevP


Oh, my goodness! That happens to me too!

Back in the 1980's, Audrey, a lady who became by best friend and still is, had her 6 year old son in lessons with me for the next 6 years. She used to remark all the time (she sat in on many of his lessons) about the way I explained things, the funny things that happened, the times I would use rhyme, or actually say a long sentence that made sense while demonstrating a few measures. The rhythm and the inflection always fit! It might have nothing to do with the title of the piece, but it always worked and was absolutely memorable. Those are intuitive moments! I would say that's very "zen" of you! And, very, very, very cool! grin laugh wink

I've not heard other teachers talk about it happening to them.

Delightful posting on your part, Bev! thumb

Top

Moderator:  Ken Knapp 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
89 registered (Alux, beet31425, Allard, AndrewJCW, AZNpiano, 23 invisible), 1088 Guests and 22 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75890 Members
42 Forums
156827 Topics
2304351 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
POSTING PICTURES
by bluebilly
Today at 03:19 AM
Goedkope Nike Free Run 2
by rstuvw780928
Today at 01:01 AM
Portable Power Supply for Digital Piano?
by piccione
Yesterday at 11:45 PM
on revisiting Chopin Etudes
by Lingyis
Yesterday at 11:45 PM
Molotov Cocktail Piano
by Robert W. Weber
Yesterday at 11:38 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission