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Topic Options
#1273296 - 09/23/09 08:47 AM Wait....
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
This happens so often that I think others of you must hear it as well - a student who stumbles in the middle of a piece says, "wait..." It drives me crazy! I don't understand why it is this particular word that gets used, or why so much. There are times when I am making a student play a piece over and over, even though they are playing quite well, simply because they mutter "wait" somewhere. (I only teach elementary level - these are short pieces.)

I have tried everything from strict "No talking, please" to joking "It's going to sound ridiculous when you are on stage at Carnegie Hall saying 'wait'" to literal "I'm not going anywhere."

This past week one of my students was having such a difficult time NOT saying it, that I finally made her hold a little piece of paper between her lips while she played - can't talk if she can't open her mouth. She was in a fit of giggles by the time she was done, but it made the point.

Is this an issue anyone else deals with?
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#1273307 - 09/23/09 09:13 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Lollipop]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Ha! This happens to me, often, and only this afternoon, a young guitar student, while trying to show me how far he had got with 'Classical Gas', kept stuffing up, mainly because he was trying to go faster to impress me.
It is almost not, 'wait', but a shortened version, a kind of cut off, 'wai!' . I really don't mind it. It shows that the student is trying his/her best, but it is good to see that I am not alone in experiencing this. :-)
_________________________
Rob

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#1273324 - 09/23/09 09:51 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: R0B]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I get "oops!" or "just kidding!" sometimes as well as "wait". I let them get through the piece, and then go back to those areas because that tells me something happened there for them to say it, even if it wasn't heard in the playing (though often it is). It's a little "hiccup" that needs some extra attention.

Only when we get closer to preparing for a performance do I work with them on not speaking. Of course, if the student is counting out loud, they can't bother with such things because they're busy saying the counts smile. Plus, counting forces them to play slower, which gives the mind time to think. The "waits" and other words are a result of playing too fast for their brain, and it's like their brain is telling their fingers to "wait".
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#1273327 - 09/23/09 09:55 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The ability to play without stuttering is extremely important, obviously, and the sooner the student learns that music is a flow, not a series notes, the sooner they will escape the boundaries of the bar lines. For students, the bar lines often act like fences, holding them back, rather than just a guide to help the player/reader keep organized.

First, we discuss the flow concept. Often I will sing the phrase. Then we play it. I will play along with them, keeping the flow going even when they stutter.

Depending on the student, I may take a completely different tact. When student says, "wait," I respond with NO or WHY? We discuss it from there.

Playing duets with students, more importantly having students play with each other is one way they can internalize the importance of maintaining a steady pulse throughout the piece.
_________________________
"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

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#1273431 - 09/23/09 12:21 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155

The word “wait” doesn,t concern me but the stopping to fix the mistake is the problem. Drives me CRAZY when a student plays a wrong note and then “hunts” for the correct note. I fix that ASAP. I explain that a wrong note is forgivable. Messing with the pulse of the piece is the big mistake. I tell them to commit to the mistake and do not break tempo. Duets help solve this problem or playing another instrument with the student also helps.

I had a transfer student who was playing late elementary and had a terrible habit of hunting for the correct note.

I explain to students that we all have an internal pulse; heart beat, we walk to a rhythm, breath rhythmically and so on. What is a hiccup? It is the body getting out of sinc with that internal rhythm. When the audience is listening to a music performance they instinctively relate to the pulse - steady rhythm. When the pulse is disrupted it is disconcerting for the listener. Subconsciously the listener is expecting the beat to fall at a certain time. When it doesn‘t, it is difficult for the listener to find that place again. They may not even know why the piece sounds bad. It is like that hiccup.

However If the wrong note is played, the listener tends to move on. The tipped or missed not does not stick with the listener like a disrupted rhythm.

I admit to my students that when I play the piano every Sunday, rarely is there a performance that I hit every note correctly. If you sit through a concert and you know enough about music you will find that there are many mistakes. I can mess up a note or two but I can’t mess up the rhythm. Other instruments are counting on flawless pulse. The choir and singers are also counting on the pulse of that rhythm.

I also relate a story about a student who took a piece to competition. She played a Tarantella. Her rhythm was very accurate. When she performed her piece her hand found the wrong position and she played the wrong notes for several measures. She fixed it without breaking tempo. She scored a Superior rating and the judge commented on the importance of the tempo and the fact that she fixed beautifully. Had she played all the correct notes but showed weakness in her rhythm, she would not have scored as high.

YES, drives me nuts too. I would suspect the habit of saying “wait” is symptomatic of the bigger problem.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1273478 - 09/23/09 01:09 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Mrs.A]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
One way to bring their "STALL" to their attention is to play the melody with them and they will not only hear but "OWN" the stall.

Then we work to figure out "WHY" is that "STALL" happening there (WHERE?)on the page at that time? (I sometimes joke about it as having trouble with the engine of the car and the mechanic needs to get under the hood and fix it.) (Or, we might use our imaginary magnifying glass to look closely at the page to exaggerate looking for the clue as to what is wrong. Actually, one year I passed out little plastic magnifying glasses from the dollar store and it was a great event of watching the kids use them when they were working on their music at lesson.)

Then we do a little bit of drilling around the isolated spot, then backing up a measure or two and proceeding past the spot to incorporate most or all of the phrase the problem area appears in. We mark "windows" using brackets looking like tied-back curtains that identify the "practice area" if necessary.

I think we have to help the student work his way through solving problems until he is able to do these remedial things on his own. Work toward giving him his own bag of "tricks" to use.

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#1273482 - 09/23/09 01:13 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Betty Patnude]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


Then we do a little bit of drilling around the isolated spot, then backing up a measure or two and proceeding past the spot to incorporate most or all of the phrase the problem area appears in. We mark "windows" using brackets looking like tied-back curtains that identify the "practice area" if necessary.

I think we have to help the student work his way through solving problems until he is able to do these remedial things on his own. Work toward giving him his own bag of "tricks" to use.


Yep. Agreed Betty.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1273712 - 09/23/09 08:13 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Mrs.A]
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
somewhat off topic, when a practice, much worse words come out of my mouth... not really student appropriate. blush

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#1273720 - 09/23/09 08:26 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Sal_]
jagshrink Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/09
Posts: 43
Loc: OH--IO
Thanks for this thread. I am always on the lookout for ways not to make my beloved piano teacher dread my lesson time. As a student, I agree with the "duet strategy". Because I was a band student long before I was an adult beginner on piano, I am in the habit of continuing if I am playing along with others.

To Sal: yes, my teacher has heard some unsavory words from me, usually one word repeated 4 or 5 times.

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#1273778 - 09/23/09 09:45 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: jagshrink]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
One of the biggest reasons I think students get lost and interupt themselves is their random eye movement on the page - they get lost - when they are not focusing on the present moment of then the next beat/impulse is due.

If the student does not have a clear thought on the finger number to play, anxiety sets in and adds up as that continues to occur.

Of course, an experienced piano player is going to get better over time, but without a steady beat pulsating in the mind of the player, the counting and the next notes due are not going to be placed on time by the beginner.

Each item needs specific structure of it's own before it's thrown into multitasking of reading the piece of music and expecting a "finished" result.

During beginning lessons I teach the following:
1) The musical alphabet and keyboard locations of white notes within the groups of black notes.

2) Finger numbers (opposing) All music at present would have finger numbers written out.

3) Counting by Note Values (syllabic system - not metered)

4) Keyboard - 5 Finger Postions - Middle C, Parallel C for several lessons. Moving to tetrachord position for a major scale 5-4-3-2 2-3-4-5, and then adding the 6th, 7th degrees of the scale to the hand shape by learning to cross fingers.

5) Intervalic reading by distance and direction. Conjunct stepwise first, disjunct gradually.

6) I save the note name reading on the page for last development.

With this process, I think the student is spared the "Wait" moments and will never have to resort to "expletives" when playing the piano. "(Ooops, is the most used word I've heard.)

The "thinking process for a learning musician" if not available to him with first lessons is forever going to be a random result. If the opportunity to train in thinking skills presents itself the subconscious takes over what the conscious mind has discovered about the process of music reading.

I think the teaching methods do not work toward helping the student develop a thinking process for musical decision making therefore there is little ability for students to find solutions to their own problems. Methods used to "think" - but they don't today.

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#1273956 - 09/24/09 08:23 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Betty Patnude]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I don't hear "wait", but I have a couple that feel they need to tell me where they are going next. If there is a repeat or a 1st/2nd ending etc...they will stop and say "and now I'm going to go up here" and point to it. Like they're letting me know so I don't get lost lol
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1273960 - 09/24/09 08:29 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Maybe I'm the only one that says "sorry"...then my teacher will say "It's ok" like a real accident smile
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1273966 - 09/24/09 08:40 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
When the student says "wait," it's a symptom, not the problem. Treating the symptom doesn't really address the underlying problem, so you'll need to figure out what's really going on behind the scenes.

It could be a note recognition issue, a technical issue, a rhythmic issue, or a practice issue.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1273972 - 09/24/09 08:58 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Rebecca - I have had a few students who do say sorry. They are usually older. For some reason, that is easier to stop.

My students are not lost when they say "wait" - it's more like they are thinking hard and aren't even aware of verbalizing. It is an interruption of fluency, granted, and often represents a point in the music where it switches from RH to LH or a change in the pattern, for example. It happens when a student is playing something he has been practicing, and was a bit in automatic mode, and the change catches him by surprise. It is short hand for - "whoops, I zoned out for a moment and better get back on track." I am trying to keep it from becoming a verbal habit.

I don't believe it is an inadequacy of my teaching or method. I respectfully disagree wtih Betty's conclusions, but have no problem if her way works for her. I'm always interested in seeing what works for others. The method I use does use some of the things she mentions - but not all. I do use a metered rhythm. The concept of all beats being equal in length is something my students need to be taught. They are all too willing to count slower or faster depending upon whether something is easier for them or not. They are all very familiar with my metronome - a dome covered with yellow curly ribbon, named Shirley Tempo. They are all on first-name basis with her. "Can I try this with Shirley?"

I do not use too many finger numbers. All those finger numbers in John Thompson drive me nuts. I prefer for students to recognize other clues in the music to help them make logical decisions. I do teach note reading ASAP, as well as intervallic reading. etc.) I'm always willing to tweak my methods if I think it will help, but I'm not willing to change what isn't broken.

All my students are beginners. The "wait" shows up as a part of the thinking-out-loud they are doing. I am more amused by the fact that many of them seem to choose the same word. My young students seem to respond best to the idea that talking during a piece is a "mistake" that needs to be corrected.
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piano teacher

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#1273978 - 09/24/09 09:07 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Rebekah.L
Maybe I'm the only one that says "sorry"...then my teacher will say "It's ok" like a real accident smile


I do this at my lessons too! I did it a lot Tuesday because my practice hadn't been up to snuff and I wasn't warmed up, so I was playing wrong notes that I knew were wrong, but I wasn't going to bother stopping to fix them. I was saying it to let her know I knew 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

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#1274037 - 09/24/09 10:18 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Morodiene]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
To me, the 'wait' signifies that the student is a little miffed with themselves, that they have made a mistake, and wants to prove that they know the correct notes, fingering, or whatever, and so I let it pass until the end of the piece, and then we go back, and re-visit the 'wait' moments, until a better 'flow' is achieved.
It's all good :-)
_________________________
Rob

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#1274059 - 09/24/09 10:54 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Betty Patnude]
blackdog Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 12
Loc: Louisiana
Hi, Lollipop
Okay, you definately don't want my child as a student!I laughed when I read your post,b/c my daughter (9 yr old) says this all the time! I have wondered if she is not saying it b/c she wants to be allowed to correct the mistake herself, rather than being corrected by her teacher or me.

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#1274112 - 09/24/09 12:00 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: blackdog]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Um... surely whether saying `wait' (or whatever) during playing is a problem or not depends on the context? I mean, if what you're trying to achieve is fluency regardless of the odd dropped note, then pausing is no good. But if what you're trying to achieve is accurate note recognition, then slowing down to get the right note(s) is surely better than missing them?

I mean the `wait' thing is irritating, but to insist _always_ on scrupulous tempo at the expense of inaccurate notes sounds a bit narrow to me. Just my two-pennyworth, of course.

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#1274141 - 09/24/09 12:41 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: blackdog]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Lollipop said: "They are all too willing to count slower or faster depending upon whether something is easier for them or not. They are all very familiar with my metronome - a dome covered with yellow curly ribbon, named Shirley Tempo. They are all on first-name basis with her. "Can I try this with Shirley?"

I love your metronome's name - "Shirley Tempo!"

Mine is "Mr. Clicker".

Lollipop I apologize if you thought of my post as a criticism of your teaching. It was an explanation of how I teach. I did not mean to say if you teach this way...etc. I really believe if someone sees something that I wrote as valid they might want to use an idea from it or investigate for themselves how it works, but I am not trying to shove it down anyone's throat. My postings are truly not meant to intimidate anyone. I feel that my writing style is strong because of verbs I use that sound imperative. I also write structured like a "to do list". I have no desire to tread on other teachers or to make them uncomfortable. We all certainly have the right to teach to the perspective of what we believe piano teaching is all about.

I think the results that my system gets are really good results to assist student's having musical experiences first and then we develop the understanding of what we did at the piano as it appears on the music staff. I am satisfied with what I do in lessons, but it is amazing all the many good ideas that I pick up here by having stimulation from others about what teaching is all about.

As far as over fingering goes, we move away from that as soon as possible and then provide only finger numbers that need to be written in. The whole idea of having all finger numbers available in the beginning is to provide security, to identify which fingers to move, and to become aware that a efficient and effective fingering plan is very necessary in every piece of music.

I bring fingering to the forefront as being an essential tool for playing (sending an impulse) to the piano. Nothing gets played on the piano without that "spark" of thought that puts a specific finger into use. Overfingering gives students the idea that fingering is absolutely essential in the mix of our thinking skills. Gradually the student makes capable decisions about it and can come away from every finger being numbered.

Fingering allows us to access the keyboard and be able to travel a phrase or a line of music fairly easily. I think it's a more critical issue in teaching beginners than the method books do.

I hope to make amends with you, Lollipop. I feel badly that you might have taken my posting to heart and it felt like a criticism. I did not intend that in any way.

Betty

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#1274152 - 09/24/09 12:52 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: kevinb]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Yes I completely agree with your post but I think you miss understand why I, for one, push steady tempo.

At the beginning of learning a new piece there is a much problem solving and finding notes is part of that process. Hesitation and correcting notes is expected.

I posted about students who stop the flow and hunt for the note. It is a very bad habit. I cringe when I see a student who KNOWS A PIECE WELL yet stops at every mistake. Teaching a student to continue without breaking tempo, even if they stumble, is important. There is a place in every learned piece when the student has to keep it moving - especially if they are preparing performances or auditions.

For some students it is psychological block. If the stumble they can’t get past it.

I believe Kriesler hit it on the head when he posted “When the student says "wait," it's a symptom, not the problem. Treating the symptom doesn't really address the underlying problem, so you'll need to figure out what's really going on behind the scenes.

It could be a note recognition issue, a technical issue, a rhythmic issue, or a practice issue“.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1274306 - 09/24/09 03:54 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Mrs.A]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Thanks for your post, Betty. It does help to understand where you are coming from. I appreciate your sharing your experiences, and I do learn from them. Recently in another thread you wrote about "dancing on the keys" and that imagery has stuck with me - combined with another poster - perhaps John? - who wrote that measure bars get in the way sometimes (as does the end of a line). Those two things together help me think in different ways about fluency.

Backdog - If I didn't have any students that said wait, I'd have only a third or so of my students left! smile

Kevin - I understand your point while learning a piece, but once a piece is otherwise fluent, a "wait" is not helping things.

I do not make my students get every single thing about every single piece correct every single time. I am "grading" a student as they play - I'm looking for somewhere around a 95% in general, with more weight given to what a particular piece is stressing. For instance, if the piece is teaching staccato, I'm going to ask to hear the piece again if the staccato is mushy - even if every single note, dynamic, and rhythm is correct. Conversely, if the staccato is beautiful, and the rest of the piece is lacking something, I may decide to pass it and move along.

So just because a student says "wait" by itself isn't enough to derail an entire lesson for me. But what I am conscious of is that with certain students, it becomes an automatic audible tic every time their brain needs to switch gears somewhere. Often it does not indicate any other mistake, only a mental "concern" the student has at that point in the piece.

So every once in awhile, when I sense it is becoming problematic, I write at the top of the piece "No talking". It becomes one of the higher issues for that particular piece. I'm trying to ward off bad habits.
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piano teacher

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#1274317 - 09/24/09 04:13 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Lollipop]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
I have a couple of students who say "Sorry" when they make a mistake. I just reassure them that they don't have to apologize, and that making mistakes is part of learning something new.

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#1274357 - 09/24/09 05:20 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: Overexposed]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Lollipop said: "Thanks for your post, Betty. It does help to understand where you are coming from. I appreciate your sharing your experiences, and I do learn from them. Recently in another thread you wrote about "dancing on the keys" and that imagery has stuck with me - combined with another poster - perhaps John? - who wrote that measure bars get in the way sometimes (as does the end of a line). Those two things together help me think in different ways about fluency.

Thank you, Lollipop, for commenting about dancing on the keys and fluency!

I wanted to comment on the "measure bars" as an interruption: I notoriously use "wite out" correction fluid in my teaching to remove things from the music page that are non-essential. For some children the biggest interruption is that they stop at the measure bars before moving on - so I white them out on at least one page of music so that they don't see the bars. This seems to help them over that awful habit.

Another problem sometimes is in melodies between two hands in the beginning and elementary level: Some kids stop and interrupt themselves moving from left hand to right hand (this is their eye movement slowly following the open white space where BCD are located. They need to "zip across the street" so I write in orange lines between the LH notehead and the RH notehead and say that its' a "crosswalk" to get across the street safely just as if there were traffic involved. The other words I use as I'm drawing crosswalks are "dot to dot" since we used the note head for "targets".

For some kids reading the two-handed melodies is very difficult not just at the crosswalks so the orange color starts at the beginning of the piece and ends at the end connecting every note that is part of the melody in "dot to dot" fashion. Some kids have more visual interferance than others - easy to understand since there is so much black and white on the music page.

I believe the use of colors is important to beginners to isolate certain thoughts that are being trained into place. I call our "art work" "Picasso's". It proves to be a colorful event of everything that was done on the page that was new or difficult. Every color acts as a consistent reminder.

Betty

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#1274400 - 09/24/09 06:25 PM Re: Wait.... [Re: blackdog]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: blackdog
I laughed when I read your post,b/c my daughter (9 yr old) says this all the time! I have wondered if she is not saying it b/c she wants to be allowed to correct the mistake herself, rather than being corrected by her teacher or me.
I think you're onto something here. The "wait" I hear is usually meaning "I really do know how to do this, let me fix it by myself". And we are trying to develop independence in the end, aren't we. Not saying that the problem which caused the stumble doesn't need to be addressed, but we want students to work on things because they want to, not just because we say so.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1280484 - 10/04/09 11:21 AM Re: Wait.... [Re: Betty Patnude]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
How about encouraging them to take lessons on the instrument they play in band or orchestra? You can't hesitate for a difficult passage when playing pieces with other instruments, especially solo pieces with piano. My best piano students are those who take lessons on another instrument with a good teacher.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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