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#1458711 - 06/18/10 08:03 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Elissa Milne]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I love your detailed explanations, John. I don't teach any students this young, but have several students who don't "get it" yet, and have backed off and tried some of your simpler approaches. Hopefully something will stick.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1458805 - 06/18/10 11:05 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Patience is a very necessary virtue. You need plenty of it. Then some more. And a very willing and helpful parent. Without the parent's daily work with the child, nothing is going to happen. You will need to make this really, really clear at the outset. Ask the parent point blank, "Are you willing to sit down twice a day with your child, for 15 to 20 minutes, and go through the drills we cover in the lesson? This can only work if you're totally committed to doing this."

Secondly, be prepared for brick walls. Back in early May, we were beginning to get the note reading, only to run into a major road block. After 5 weeks of seemingly zero progress, bingo. However, I was disparing, big time.

You simply have to keep doing other activities, making games out of flash card reading, racing the student up and down the keyboard, finding notes, etc.

I always complement the parents on the good work they are doing with the student, so they realize I know that they are following through at home, and appreciate what they are doing. Of course, it's for their child, but everyone is egocentric, so a complement here or there will never hurt!
_________________________
"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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#1549489 - 11/02/10 05:22 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Update and editorial.

For those of you who have dismissed the idea of starting very young students, I just want to encourage you to think about how you might go about it and what the rewards might be.

True story. The young lady, who is now 4 1/2 but had a 3 month hiatus due to a family emergency, is back at lessons and is progressing right on track. Today, she showed up at lessons and pulled out of her sack three of my books which she had purloined from the studio without my knowledge. One is Silly Sonatinas by John Robert Poe. This is a volume I use for remedial work with students having basic note reading problems. She set the book on the piano desk, opened to the first sonatina, and proceeded to play the entire sonatina, correctly!

What would be the point of holding this student back until 1st or 2nd grade? Why not learn how to work with these students and at the same time, enhance your reputation and increase your pool of potential students as other parents stop and consider, "Why not my child?"

BTW, she participated in her first recital Saturday; this was an open, community-wide recital with 60 students participating. As you might suspect, she stole the show! And ate it up, too.

Her concentration and focus has expanded and she can sit through a 50 min lesson with ease. This at 4 1/2 years old. You just get there a minute at a time.
_________________________
"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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#1549497 - 11/02/10 05:34 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
John, my youngest student just turned 5 and started lessons a year ago. He too was impressive playing a grand piano at the recital. He's small for his age anyway and played well. It really was impressive to those watching.

He used his music book, and he stood on the pedal extender and stretched up in order to reach the music rack. Put his own music up, and removed it when he finished. smile
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1549516 - 11/02/10 05:58 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Congratulations, Ann. It is very rewarding, and a great way to get students to achieve before their horizons expand and they lose interest.
_________________________
"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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#1549550 - 11/02/10 06:49 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
smile Thanks John. It's rewarding to work with kids who are interested in learning to play piano. And this little fellow is very enthusiastic. It would be a different story if it were just an ambitious parent and if the child lacked interest.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1549736 - 11/02/10 11:19 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I started two 5 year olds this year, and it's not easy work! One is in My First Piano Adventures, and the other is using Succeeding at the Piano. Maybe I'm just impatient, but these kids move SO slow. What I'd really like to do is to teach a general music class to about 4 beginners where they learn to sing, rhythm, notation, and had some fun with the piano, but not formal lessons one on one. Perhaps in a year they'll be ready to apply what they know to the piano.

John, how are you getting the parents to practice with the kids 2x a day? Are you charging the same for them as you are your older students? Is it hard to get them to commit to lessons 2x a week?
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1549846 - 11/03/10 04:15 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
My teaching experience is only five years. Since 2008 I start to accept very young students in my private 30 minutes lesson. My youngest student was three and half years old girl when she started. Since then, I found my niche in my area. A lot of parents bring their three years to five years to me. I interview them and of course reject to teach some of them because they are not ready for piano lesson. Among those that I rejected, there is one girl Esther was three years old on the first interview, I told the mother that she is too young and ask her to come back in six months. Six months later, she came back for second interview and I think she is ready for piano lesson, and she is progressing very good! We are recently in our tenth lesson and she already can play with CD with steady rhythm, curve fingers, regconize middle C, D and E, whole note quarter note etc.

I especially like this group of students because they are in preschool and they can fill up my morning time easily. Currently I have 17 students who started piano lesson younger than five.

I totally agree with John that why should I hold back this girl until first or second grade when she is progressing better than my other first and second grade?

However, parents has to help at home, a lot. Interview for readiness is the key too.

Please excuse my miss spell, if I have any
_________________________
English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks

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#1549967 - 11/03/10 10:18 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
John, I am amazed. I can't imagine a child of 4 1/2 achieving what your student has. 6 feels quite young to me. What an inspiring story to read, thank you for the big smile I have. And congratulations to Ann and smallpiano who have also had success.

Well I'll keep an open mind. Mostly I need to get better at harnessing parent-power. I've only recently captured my first Helpful Parent - makes a difference to progress doesn't it!
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1549989 - 11/03/10 10:48 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Stanny]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7305
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Stanny
John, how are you getting the parents to practice with the kids 2x a day? Are you charging the same for them as you are your older students? Is it hard to get them to commit to lessons 2x a week?

As Smallpiano and others have mentioned, parental involvement is paramount. During your initial interview, teachers must stress that although students have unbelievable learning capabilities, at this age, they lack the ability to focus, stay on task, and discipline themselves sufficiently to learn to play the piano. I ask the parents point blank, "Will you commit to two or three 10 - 15 minute play sessions with your child each and every day, where you go over the material we've covered in lessons?" If there is any hesitation at all, then success is not possible, and you need to gently ask that they wait until the child is older. I also give them a practice binder and print out a daily practice sheet each week, which we put into the binder. The parent has to tick off each daily practice session, and when they come to lessons with missing entries, I take them, the parents, to task, not the child. With any student who has not entered 1st grade, there is really no viable excuse a parent can offer for not doing multiple practice sessions each day. They don't have to be long, they don't have to be grueling. They just have to be done!

For most young children, the experience has to be almost game like. Especially when doing drills. And BTW, drills are paramount at this age. M is learning fourths now, and we drill keyboard speed. She starts at the top of the key board, say D-G, and plays them a blocked pair a time, going down the key board, and then up the keyboard, changing hands. At her lessons, we race. I allow her a two octave head start, then I begin, and try to catch her. She is literally screaming with delight as she races down the keyboard, with me hot on her trail.

As I mentioned very early on in this particular topic, I was giving M two lessons a week. We started out at 15 min each, then within a month, it expanded to 20 min, then 25 min, and finally 30 + min. After 4 months, we went to one lesson a week, which is now running roughly 50 min or so. Because this was my first real try at this, I offered lessons deeply discounted, but to new students, no.
_________________________
"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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#1550018 - 11/03/10 11:26 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
John, Wow! You deserve this wonderful student! No more discounts as you clearly have a talent for this age group. I can just see you racing her up the keyboard - brilliant idea smile
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

Top
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