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#1398553 - 03/18/10 12:02 PM Very Young Students
Reid Burgess Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 12
Loc: United States
For children 4-6, I find that a half hour lesson is generally more appropriate than a normal 45 minute lesson. Do you agree? Do you charge LESS for these shorter lessons?

Thanks!

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#1398563 - 03/18/10 12:29 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Reid, I just started a highly talented young lady who is not quite 4.



We are doing two 15 minute lessons a week. Mom is responsible for daily practice. I'm charging the same rate as for a weekly 30 minute lesson. Obviously, this is a loss leader as I expect she will be a walking billboard for my studio as she advances way ahead of her peers!

However, as a matter of policy, the shorter the lesson, the higher the cost per lesson. Or to turn it around, the longer the lesson, the lower the cost per minute of instruction, because there is less administrative overhead - a one hour lesson is a lot less administrative work than are two half hour lessons.
_________________________
"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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#1398748 - 03/18/10 04:27 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
007Pianolady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/07
Posts: 41
I've had a few very young students, and 15-20 minutes is about right for attention span. I've had slightly older students (6-7) take two 30 minute lessons twice a week, and that works out really well if the parents are willing to pay for it. The students that have started this way, have continued to come twice a week. This could probably also be done with very young students with good success. My experience has been that the more often I see a student, the better they progress, no matter the age.
_________________________
Independent Piano Teacher 1987 (full-time)

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#1398797 - 03/18/10 05:32 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: 007Pianolady]
bhf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/09
Posts: 22
My daughter is 6 and she has been doing 1 hour lesson since she turned 6. But I noticed her mind is kind of going to half-dreaming at the final minutes so I think generally this is the upper limit. :-)

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#1398809 - 03/18/10 05:58 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: bhf]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
John, your new little student is so adorable. I'm sure you will do amazingly well with her or you would not have taken her on at this age. I can't wait to hear more about your experiences!

A young child's body sitting at the piano is equivalent to the old "Edsel" car which was a huge tub with a low seat making the short people of the world having to lift their arms to shoulder height to drive while barely able to see out the front window.

I wouldn't advocate this position for a young child at all much less for a piano lesson.

Attention spans usually require we work in short increments of time at the piano. 10 - 20 minutes.

Neurological and muscular development being what it is in the young child also impose restrictions or cautions about over working.

You wouldn't like how it feels proportionately if you sat at a massive instrument that you had to reach up to put your hands upon and where the music was truly placed "over your head" above your normal line of vision. Can you imagine what that does to their necks and to their shoulders and their spines?

Let's be cautious with our really young little people in expecting great results in piano lessons. Reading and playing music at the piano is such a big intellectual process of thinking and doing with discipline, patience and perseverance.

When they stop smiling at piano lessons we must take their cues and adjust to their needs and age so as to do no harm.

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#1398833 - 03/18/10 06:43 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Betty Patnude]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Betty, thanks for your ideas!

As you point out, posture and position for any piano student, but especially the young, it is crucial. Not only do I use the pedal extender, so their feet and legs don't dangle, but all my benches are adjustable, so each student is at exactly the right position for the keyboard in front of them.

BTW, that snap was taken at the end of the lesson!
_________________________
"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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#1398844 - 03/18/10 06:52 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
That is a precious photo and for it to be at the end of the lesson! Incredibly precious! I'm so happy for you both!

I figured you are equipped with the support systems in your studio, John, I was actually posting to refer to those important things for parents and teachers who might not have thought of these as necessary for short and young bones.

Remember that old Edsel I speak about? I thought it was the ugliest car ever made. Not the least bit comfortable! And, also not long on the market - he, he, I wonder why? he he.

Best!

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#1398868 - 03/18/10 07:24 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Betty Patnude]
Reid Burgess Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 12
Loc: United States
Thanks very much everyone, and John I would love to hear an update about how the lesson with the talented young lady.

...On a related note, I am a fan of the Alfred Series but for this age group can't decide between the Basic Prep course or the Music For Little Mozarts. What is real difference between the two and what ages would be appropriate for either "Prep" or "Mozarts"?

best wishes,
reid

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#1399165 - 03/19/10 09:37 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Reid, I'm starting her out learning keyboard topography and recognizing notes using flash cards. We're going very, very slowly, as I don't want her to lose enthusiasm.

The text is Fingers, Pitch and Pulse, by N. Jane Tan and it used to be published by Willis. Don't know if they have anymore in stock. PM me if you can't find a copy. We play little games up and down the keyboard learning key names and playing them. Later in the text, the student begins playing little note pieces.

First, we learned to recognize middle C on the grand staff. I had three flash cards, G, F, and MC. I would hold them behind my back, make lots of card shuffling noise, but every time, MC would come out. At first, she had to think to recognize it. By the 4th or 5th time, she couldn't believe her good luck at getting MC once again! Pretty soon, she started giggling. Then and only then, did I add a second card, using the same procedure. Mom had this light bulb just turned on expression about half way through the exercise!

In the end, the real problem is not the student so much as it is the home support environment. If the mom or parent is willing to dedicate the amount of time daily to the task of child learning an instrument, the child will learn and grow to be wonderfully accomplished.

Students are very, very perceptive of parents values. In the end, they will be no more dedicated to piano or music than the parent is, unless they fall in that very rare class of people who are themselves bitten/smitten and can't let go.
_________________________
"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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#1399187 - 03/19/10 10:24 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
John,

I am curious to know if, and how you obtained permission to post your delightful young student's photo on the internet.

Do you advise parents that you may do so?

I ask this, because I have often wanted to take a snap of my students, purely for my own scrapbook purposes, but feel very awkward asking permission to do so.

Rob
_________________________
Rob

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#1399217 - 03/19/10 11:13 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: R0B]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
In this particular case, mom forgot her camera, so I told her I'd post it on a photo site, so she could down load it for her scrapbook. She was thrilled.
_________________________
"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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#1399252 - 03/19/10 12:21 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Thanks for the explanation :-)

Maybe I should just ask?

In this horribly PC world we now live in, I just don't know how such a request would be interpreted.
_________________________
Rob

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#1409724 - 04/02/10 10:33 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: R0B]
Reid Burgess Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 12
Loc: United States
Hmmmm....any tips for method books to be used with teaching a 4.5 year old?

I'm going to start generally with short rhythm games, listening games, card games, etc, considering the time as "music lessons," not just "piano lessons." When we do progress into a method, I'm looking for the right one...

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#1409956 - 04/03/10 10:35 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I rather like the name on that piano behind her! smile

In addition to note recognition and mapping the keyboard, how exactly are you working with her to develop touch, hand posture, and all the other technical aspects of playing? And how do you do this differently for one so young compared with a student who begins at a later age?

Quote:
In the end, the real problem is not the student so much as it is the home support environment. If the mom or parent is willing to dedicate the amount of time daily to the task of child learning an instrument, the child will learn and grow to be wonderfully accomplished.


Well, that brooks no argument from me. Sorry, pun intended.

Quote:
I expect she will be a walking billboard for my studio as she advances way ahead of her peers!


Yes, if she sticks with it, and the family support environment continues to be rich, this is the kind that can bat out a very credible Chopin Etude at age nine. When I was a teen, and finally getting my pianistic act together (by switching to a high octane teacher) I marveled, Salieri-like, at the talent and dedication of the under tens that she taught.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1410052 - 04/03/10 01:14 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Generally speaking, you'd start with a young beginner method like Music for Little Mozarts or My First Piano Adventure, then move into your method of choice when the kid's cognitive development and motor skills are ready. This needs to be a judgment made by the teacher based on observation. Keep in mind that methods are designed for 8-12 year olds. Before that a completely different approach is warranted (and MFLM and MFPA can provide that approach if you use them wisely and don't just go through them in order from page 1...)

Originally Posted By: Reid Burgess
Hmmmm....any tips for method books to be used with teaching a 4.5 year old?

I'm going to start generally with short rhythm games, listening games, card games, etc, considering the time as "music lessons," not just "piano lessons." When we do progress into a method, I'm looking for the right one...



_________________________
"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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#1410221 - 04/03/10 06:56 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Piano*Dad]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
I rather like the name on that piano behind her! smile

I'm quite fond of it myself!

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
In addition to note recognition and mapping the keyboard, how exactly are you working with her to develop touch, hand posture, and all the other technical aspects of playing? And how do you do this differently for one so young compared with a student who begins at a later age?

We are doing keyboard Drills, Finger Drills, Rhythm Drills and Pianistic Reading. Her concentration at this point has doubled, to perhaps four minutes! However, because we switch activities just as soon as I see her start to lose focus, we're able to get through a number of items. For example, playing the black keys: it was a challenge to get her to play each group with an unified sound, but after a couple of weeks of just moving up and down the keyboard, it has come together. After the first week, I asked her to see how closely to the end of the keys she could play each group. At first, it was pretty hit or miss, literally, but now, she is quite proficient at it. When we play single keys (she is just learning to differentiate the keys from F to MC to G), I ask her to mimic my hand and wrist motion. She is getting better at it, but of course, this will take many, many months. How many 10 year old students do you have who just cannot unlock their wrists?

This is just a rough over-view. We're working on counting to four, which isn't so easy for a 4 year old, and doing finger wiggles to identify finger numbers. Flash card-wise, we've got MC, Bass F, and Treble G pretty well mastered.

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
In the end, the real problem is not the student so much as it is the home support environment. If the mom or parent is willing to dedicate the amount of time daily to the task of child learning an instrument, the child will learn and grow to be wonderfully accomplished.


Well, that brooks no argument from me. Sorry, pun intended.


Believe it or not, this has just begun to dawn on the parents. And they are finally starting to do it. I carefully outline each task on a work sheet for the parent, and ask them to spend 15 minutes with student twice a day. Make it fun, not an ordeal. And be really overboard with the praise.

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I expect she will be a walking billboard for my studio as she advances way ahead of her peers!


Yes, if she sticks with it, and the family support environment continues to be rich, this is the kind that can bat out a very credible Chopin Etude at age nine. When I was a teen, and finally getting my pianistic act together (by switching to a high octane teacher) I marveled, Salieri-like, at the talent and dedication of the under tens that she taught.
One can only hope!
_________________________
"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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#1410316 - 04/03/10 09:29 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
elfenbein Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/10
Posts: 45
Loc: USA
With all of my beginning students, but especially the young ones, I spend much time developing the ear (in addition to rhythm games, key recognition, finger numbers, the Musical Alphabet, etc): we start with what I unimaginatively call "three notes": at first I sit right next to the student, sharing the same bench, and play three notes, repeated notes at first. They watch, then copy, one or two octaves higher. We pay attention to handshape and flexible wrist, etc.

As they get better, I play three ascending notes, or descending, then combination of repeat, ascending, descending, etc. Soon I move to the other piano where they can't see as well (and at first complain!) but they learn that they can rely on their ears. We soon make the connection that some of these patterns are parts of their songs which they learn by ear: Mary had a little lamb, Old MacDonald, etc. Three notes become five, we add skips, etc.

As they get better with their songs, I challenge them to not look at their hands ("play blindly") which prepares them for note-reading = keeping their eyes on the score instead of their hands.
They develop good ears, a strong technique, and a good feel for the keyboard topography, essential skills which I think need to come before we start reading notes and playing from a score. (We start note card drills long before we open the first piano book.)

P.S.: All of my beginning students have two lessons a week, either 30 minutes by themselves which is usually too much for a 4 or 5-yr old, or shared with either a sibling or another student.
_________________________
Elfenbein Klaviermusik
www.sibyllekuder.com
www.notes.sibyllekuder.com

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#1410353 - 04/03/10 10:22 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: elfenbein]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: elfenbein
With all of my beginning students, but especially the young ones, I spend much time developing the ear (in addition to rhythm games, key recognition, finger numbers, the Musical Alphabet, etc)......


I should have mentioned that. We're starting solfege in a week or two. Thanks for the reminder.
_________________________
"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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#1410373 - 04/03/10 11:09 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
elfenbein Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/10
Posts: 45
Loc: USA
I am doing some solfege, but not consistently, and probably not enough. If you don't mind sharing: do you have a curriculum, or a book you use for solfege? I only use it for patterns which I sing to my students and which they sing back to me. Occasionally, we will sing a familiar song in solfege, but that's about it.

Since my goal is to develop perfect RELATIVE pitch in my students, I use movable do.

I am always looking for new ideas smile
_________________________
Elfenbein Klaviermusik
www.sibyllekuder.com
www.notes.sibyllekuder.com

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#1410399 - 04/03/10 11:37 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: elfenbein]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The text is Fingers, Pitch and Pulse, by N. Jane Tan and it used to be published by Willis. It's really designed for young students, ages 5 - 7, but it seems to work well outside that range.
_________________________
"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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#1414214 - 04/09/10 01:06 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
PianoKitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: US
I specialize in teaching very young students, most beginning at age 4 and 5. I even have a child who started with me at 3-1/2 (being ready at that age is very rare, but this child was very bright), and now at age 5, she is playing Mozart Minuets and other short classical pieces. Her technique is amazing and her staff reading is wonderful. I probably have about 12 people on my waiting list who contacted me just from hearing this child play. She has been with me for almost 2 years now. It's amazing to think about what she will be playing at, say, 8 or 9 years old, if she is already playing these classical pieces at age 5!

In the past, I have posted about my young students on here, and received criticism for teaching "the unteachable." Many teachers think that young students just should not be taught, end of story. I think that people should not be so quick to count out young students. Of course, the instructor needs to have a LOT of patience in dealing with 4 and 5-year-olds! I think a lot of the criticism comes from those who just don't have the personality or patience to handle young children well.

But, speaking from experience, teaching 4 and 5-year-olds can be an incredibly rewarding experience! And you will have a few prodigies in that age group over the years! It's amazing when I watch a few of my very talented young students play...it makes me very proud.

Good luck with your young student, John! She reminds me a lot of the little Chinese girl I am referring to in my studio!
_________________________
Private Piano Instructor
Member, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)

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#1414554 - 04/09/10 10:14 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: PianoKitty]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Thanks for the well wishes. Here's a brief update:

We've complete 7 lessons so far. She can now identify all fingers correctly, all the white keys by name; she can play 1-1-1-1-2-2-2-2-3-3-3-3-4-4-4-4-5-5-5-5 in each hand, maintaining a steady pulse; she can play a 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 legato slur; she can read 3 notes on the staff, C, Bass F, and Treble G.

Next week, we'll be starting Solfege (her mom was out of town, and I didn't want to start with her dad, since he is quite unmusical, but hugely cooperative), and we are beginning clapping rhythm drills.

At the rate she is progressing, we will probably start with an easy score piece in three, possibly four weeks.

Oh, she turns four in two weeks!

One final item: she can remain focused, so our lessons are up to 25 minutes. I'm luv'n it!
_________________________
"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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#1417245 - 04/14/10 04:04 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Smallpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/10
Posts: 270
Loc: California
I like to know how to teach very young students, tell us more!
Thank you!
_________________________
English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks

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#1418257 - 04/16/10 12:54 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Reid Burgess]
tdow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
Absolutely! 30 minutes is perfect for students ages 4-6...and even beyond that. It's important to remember that a child's attention span is their age plus 3 minutes. This means that if they're 4 years old you've "lost them" after 7 minutes of one activity. The trick is to change focus often to keep them engaged. Spend some time away from the piano for a change of pace (theory games, activities on the white board etc) and split your 30 mintue lesson into 4 different "sections" (which could look like 1)book work 2)theory games/white board manipulatives 3)ear training games 4)book review )

Parents will wonder why they are paying the same rate for less time, so I would charge less to justify this time difference. People assume that piano lessons are charged based on time.
_________________________
Piano Teaching Resources with Personality
www.teachpianotoday.com
http://www.pianogeekweek.com

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#1418591 - 04/16/10 04:41 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: tdow]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Update on my young student (will be 4 next week Saturday!) who has now been with me exactly one month:

Knows the names and can find all the white keys on the keyboard.

Knows her finger numbers (better than some of my older students) and her right and left hands!!!!!

Can now maintain a steady four beat pulse.

Can play, either hand, 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4, 3-4-5, 4-5 with a nice touch and good wrist lift at end of each.

Can identify 5 notes on the grand staff.

Our start on Solfege has been delayed to mom's absence, but I plan to start her next week.

Lessons are now 30 minutes which she seems capable of handling with no difficulty.

We'll probably start on a "real" piece in 2 or 3 weeks.

I'm beginning to sense that her Dad is more into this than even the Mom!
_________________________
"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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#1418641 - 04/16/10 06:15 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
The fact that you are loving it is marvelous indications that you're a hit with this little girl who is 4 tomorrow. Happy Birthday! You, she, Mom and Dad seem to be ready for this musical experience. Let us know how the solfege goes and how you taught it to her. I'm curious about your approach. Enjoy!

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#1429800 - 05/05/10 12:02 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: Betty Patnude]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Just an update on my young student:

As you know, this is my first attempt with a very young student. We've been doing flash cards for a month now. We started with just 3 notes, G, C, & F and slowly filled in the in-between notes.

Today, she read from a score for the first time, and correctly named and played each note.

We've been doing counting and clapping exercises as well, so she can keep rhythm with 8th, 1/4, 1/2 and whole notes as well as recognize them on the staff.

We have expanded lessons to two 30 minutes a week, so she gets and hour with me every week. Parents are still enthused and working with her, about 25-30 min, twice a day now. This, of course, is the real secret. What parents are excited about, the child will be enthused about. And there's no such thing as too much praise!

One of the games we play are speed drills, how fast can she play all the (name of notes) from top to bottom on the piano, first with right hand, then with left hand. She can do the white keys pretty darn fast at this point. We'll be adding the black keys beginning Friday.

At the rate she's progressing, by July I think she'll be able to host a "piano party" for all her pre-school friends and play a recital for them. Perhaps 8 to 10 pieces, using both hands.
_________________________
"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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#1429819 - 05/05/10 01:14 AM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
Perhaps you have found another "niche" for yourself....not easy to do but many many parents are keen to start their kids early. I think it's awesome that you are having success and even more awesome that you are sharing your experience. I have had ok success with very young students...after reading your postings, I am re-thinking my approach....I can probably now improve it greatly. Thank you!!!!
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1458414 - 06/17/10 06:21 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: trillingadventurer]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Not to bore you all, but it's now been three months, almost to the day, since my little one began piano lessons and she has finally "broken" the reading code - finally. She has been doing flash cards, rhythm exercises, etc., etc., etc., two-note, three-note and four-note legato slurs. Finally, today, she read from print music, rather fluently, actually. She recognizes and can read a 4 octave span. I've just introduced her to ottava signs and concepts, so in a week or so, she should be able to identify and play any note on the piano.

She can easily stay on one specific task for a full 20 minutes now, and our half hour lessons are stretching into 35 minutes and longer, and she is not anxious to leave.

Her mother is so thrilled at this point, that she's having her sisters come to lessons with her just to watch her "pride and joy" perform.

As PianoKitty noted, it is very rewarding. I hope you all get a chance to try it some day.
_________________________
"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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#1458482 - 06/17/10 08:12 PM Re: Very Young Students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
John, this thread is an inspiration! I have a son who is nearly three and one quarter, and I've been thinking long and hard about how to start working towards formal lessons. The way you have shared the learning/teaching journey you've been having with your gorgeous young student has been a wonderful catalyst for me thinking my way through my own opportunities at home!!!!
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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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: 7368
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: 7368
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]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
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

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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: 7368
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]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
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.

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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: 7368
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.

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