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#1403952 - 03/26/10 12:04 AM Does anyone do progress reports?
musicmommy2 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/25/10
Posts: 3
I do progress reports for parents 3-4 times a year and I wondered if anyone else does this and if so, do you use a template or have found any great simple way to do this? I'm wanting to tweak what I'm doing to be faster for me.

Thanks in advance!

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#1404113 - 03/26/10 09:04 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: musicmommy2]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I've been giving serious thought to the idea. I'll be interested in others' responses, too. I'm thinking that I would do it just once a year, or perhaps once per semester.

So far, I'm thinking:
a. keep it short
b. start with a brief section of student strengths and/or recent progress
c. mention one or two areas that need work
d. create a couple specific, reachable goals

Another idea I'm toying with is creating a check-list for my beginner students, listing the concepts taught in the earliest books, and marking them similar to what my kids had in kindergarten: "not yet", "in progress", "nearly always".

By having a check-list, I would avoid any "judgement" and simply be offering a reasonably objective look at the skills mastered that can be compared from one semester to the next.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1404181 - 03/26/10 10:41 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Lollipop]
Crayola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 299
Loc: Chicago, IL
This is the basic form I use for students. I try to avoid the check, plus, minus type of feedback- that doesn't really tell them anything. The way I do it is a bit of work, but I've found it helpful in communicating to both parents and students:

Student's Name:
Evaluation during the time of fall 2009 - winter 2010

New Repertoire learned:
a. selections from the Piano Literature book 1
b.
c.
etc.

New technique covered:
a. one octave scale in all keys, hands together
b.
c.
etc.

New theory concepts introduced:
a. major and minor triads, inversions
b.
etc.

Weaknesses that have been addressed and are improving:
a. reading assignment notebook thoroughly
b.
etc.

Goals for upcoming months:
a. begin a composition workbook
b.
etc.

I also ask the parents and students if they have any specific goals themselves that we can add to the list.
_________________________
Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA

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#1404275 - 03/26/10 01:05 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Crayola]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7274
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I don't do progress reports, although it might be wise to do so.

My students all receive an end of year report from their Guild Evaluator. It is quite comprehensive, covering 39 aspects of pianism and musicianship.

An interesting aside, a side benefit if you will, of having students play in community recitals on a quarterly basis, is that these students know each other, even if they are with other teachers, and there now seems to be a bit of healthy competition occurring.

By healthy, I mean that students are preparing lessons more diligently, because they are wanting to advance faster than their peers. This means that we teachers are now having to pay attention to insure no unhealthy attitudes develop.
_________________________
"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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#1404277 - 03/26/10 01:06 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Crayola]
Miss Karen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/10
Posts: 69
Loc: Kent, WA (Covington)
I do a quick "1 minute" oral progress report with my students right before they leave their lesson. Communicating with my students and parents every lesson is very important to me. The parents as well as the students really like the "1 minute reports".
_________________________
Karen
Redwood Piano Studio
http://redwoodpianostudio.atspace.com/

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#1404306 - 03/26/10 01:51 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Miss Karen]
Weedy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/10
Posts: 19
Loc: Alberta Canada
Hi,
Frequent communication with parents is critical to all teaching.
At our studio we use software that allows each teacher to send an email or print out each weekly assignment. Teachers are encouraged to give praise and constructive criticism for each lesson. We find that the weekly lesson assignment/report keeps the parents in the loop, often averting possible issues before they happen. Parents also like the fact that this report informs them of upcoming recitals, events and holidays. Also, by doing this it also documents the students lesson history and progress. This makes it a snap to get a substitute teacher up to speed or for the parent to review pieces assigned and progress.

In the olden days we hand written assignments in a scribbler that students packed back and forth from home to lessons. This system had a couple of major flaws. First it left parent teacher correspondence in the hands of the students. If any of you have taught in the school systems you know this is a major issue as the most parents never get news letters etc. The same goes for music students, the parents rarely if ever see that scribbler. Second, if a student ever looses the scribbler, or the dog eats it you have lost the students assignment history. If you have a lot of students keeping track of their progress can be a chore especially if you have to go from memory because of a lost scribbler.

Hope that gives you some help,
_________________________
Gehres Weed
Music Teacher's Office
Music Teacher's Games

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#1404311 - 03/26/10 01:57 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Weedy]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I still use a notebook (scribbler?) with my students. It mainly contains the student's assignment, plus notes to myself reminding me of what I'm looking for. Many of the parents sit in on lessons either weekly or occasionally. Plus I have and use email.

I thinking of having a progress report in addition to these things. Something with a wider time span (like an annual growth check, when it's hard to see the growth in smaller increments.)
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1404326 - 03/26/10 02:18 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Lollipop]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I've just had this self inking stamp made to use on a weekly basis with my school students:
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1404567 - 03/26/10 08:51 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Many of my parents sit in on the lesson and can witness what is going on every minute of the lesson. I've been amazed at how well things go with them in the room, but it's a tribute to how well they choose to participate that makes it successful.

That means I don't have to bring up problems to them, they are already of a problem and how we are working it out at the piano bench.

Being in the room is somethings not productive if there are dysfunctional family dynamics, impatience or spoken negative comments. That will ruin it for all of us in the room and will have to be addressed at the moment to bring us back to the purpose and intention of being together in the room to give full attention and encouragement to the child. In my opinion, parents are there to be supportive, when they arent' I have to intervene as nicely as I can to defuse the moment. If it's unsuccessful and the parent isn't able to just be an observer, I'm going to have to teach the parent what I expect from them during a lesson and possibly tell them I need to give the lesson in private with their child for the next few weeks. I will report back to them in writing about how their concern about something is working out to not be a problem, or, speak with them for their input for a problem where I agree with them. Heads together constructively not in opposition with benefit the student. We need to keep his lesson on track and without creating potential obstacles for him to deal with.

I do use evaluations that I keep records for myself on as to whether or not we are meeting our goals and to give acknowledgement to the level that the student is now playing in, his songs titles he can perform, and a "grade" 1-5 with 5 being the highest. I have forms created for the entering of this information and keep it in the student folder. If a parent wanted a report, I could easily provide one.

I think this is an incredible amount of time to prepare quarterly or even in six month periods. Voicing it informatively in essay from would be a huge complexity. I prefer to stick with my record keeping which can provide the same information.

I rely on the students progressing musicianship to demonstrate that they are on track and actively participating in music lessons. The confrontation of a student and his parent about poor habits, poor attitudes, and poor results is another situation that demands conversation and back up reports for me to be able to make points about our concerns for the student from our different perspectives.

What is the purpose of an evaluations?

How often would a parent want an evaluations?

Is there a better way of conveying information, such as a handwritten note to either the student or to the parent.

I don't know that we have to go academic with report cards.

The music making speaks for itself, I think.

Betty Patnude

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#1404753 - 03/27/10 05:43 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Betty Patnude]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5403
Loc: Orange County, CA
While I don't do progress reports, I do quite a few studio recitals, and most of my students participate in competitions and Certificate of Merit exams. I let the judges and evaluators do the grading for me.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1404858 - 03/27/10 11:05 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: AZNpiano]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
I think that progress reports should be left out of piano and music study in general. Children should be taught that this is a space for pure enjoyment and experimentation, despite the need for consistent practice and 'work". As it is kids get tested, assessed, measured and dissected constantly. I certainly would not have wanted to carry home a stamped note to inform my parent of my practice or performance status on a regular basis.
I realize of course that some parents support a target-driven competitive approach to the study of piano but I suspect such parents may be omnipresent at lessons anyway and would get their detailed progress reports fix directly .. .
Why turn piano lessons into another "worry about the grade" opportunity. That would likely discourage children, especially in their middle or high school years, I would think..

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#1404859 - 03/27/10 11:08 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Betty Patnude]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

What is the purpose of an evaluations?

How often would a parent want an evaluations?

The music making speaks for itself, I think.

Betty Patnude



I don't know, but I have a thought.

My kids had to be nagged to practice.

But academic homework? Never. They were not going to risk their grade. Even with subjects they hated, like chemistry (one) or a badly taught geometry course (the other) they stayed up late and got it done. Music practice always got the time left over, because the penalty for not doing it was - nothing. (except for having to listen to Daddy nag)

At least for my kids, the grading system worked to produce the desired amount of practice at academic subjects.

Could it work for piano as well?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1404872 - 03/27/10 11:33 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

What is the purpose of an evaluations?

How often would a parent want an evaluations?

The music making speaks for itself, I think.

Betty Patnude



My kids had to be nagged to practice.

But academic homework? Never. They were not going to risk their grade. Even with subjects they hated, like chemistry (one) or a badly taught geometry course (the other) they stayed up late and got it done. Music practice always got the time left over, because the penalty for not doing it was - nothing. (except for having to listen to Daddy nag)

At least for my kids, the grading system worked to produce the desired amount of practice at academic subjects.

Could it work for piano as well?


I don't know, but I have a thought.

Tim,

I'm not sure that most "neighborhood" piano teachers would feel comfortable with the "authority" that written report cards or graded evaluations for a more "academic" side to piano lessons: worksheets completed, theory tested, technique challenges, vocabulary testing, that type of thing. There are computer software programs that can be used for grading and there are auditions and festivals and performance competitions where the grade will come from an objective evaluator, but I don't think students and their families will "buy into" the teachers opinions.

So many public school teaching friends of mine have big problems with getting parents to attend conferencing where grades and class participation is discussed, and of those who do attend, there is often confrontation and disagreement voiced from parents who object to what they are hearing about their child. And, these are 10-15 minute conferences! It's a lot of work to prepare for discussing grades and progress. And, then there is added expense in the using of the education services that do the testing.

It would be hard to jump in and start academic evaluation in every area that we target in teaching. For anyone moving in this direction, I would suggest one step at a time, over the entire year of teaching to pace the testing areas so that a report to the parents emcompassing all areas of teaching was not "due" all at once. Dividing the year down into quarters and then assigning certain skills to be tested (probably in a group participation) such as "Music Olympics" event or "Skill Drills". A "Game Day" could be designed to take advantage of trainers that do testing and give a score and students would be timed at one computer and 20 kids would need 10 minutes each so you have over a 3 hour usage of this one computer doing only one test. At this point, it might as well be a 3-4 hour student event involving many teachers and their students as a group activity. Doing things like this requires lots of staff for supervision.

I just see a "formal report" to the parents as being a huge deadline and then scheduling ample presentation time for communication. Big ball of wax.

As I said before, I prefer to keep my evaluations for my own edification, but would share that information if and when asked. I would need preparation time (conferencing is not presently in what tuition covers in teacher services) so this could spike a need for a fee increase to accomodate time for 20 students (average studio). I would not want to sacrifice lesson time for this purpose, it would need to be additional time scheduled on days I don't now teach.

This subject makes one think and examine one's self!

Betty


Edited by Betty Patnude (03/27/10 12:42 PM)

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#1404879 - 03/27/10 11:40 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: TimR
At least for my kids, the grading system worked to produce the desired amount of practice at academic subjects.

Could it work for piano as well?
Good points. Posters can romanticize all they want, it's a matter of achieving a level playing field. After all, what's more important?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1404896 - 03/27/10 12:25 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Betty Patnude]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Originally Posted By: TimR


My kids had to be nagged to practice.

But academic homework? Never. They were not going to risk their grade.


I don't know, but I have a thought.

Tim,

I'm not sure that most "neighborhood" piano teachers would feel comfortable with the "authority" that written report cards or graded evaluations for a more "academic" side to piano lessons: worksheets completed, theory tested, technique challenges, vocabulary testing, that type of thing.


I'm sure you're right, but I had two other thoughts.

Culturally, kids have been conditioned to accept the academic evaluation and grading systems. It confers legitimacy to the subject, and makes it fit with all the other subjects they work on every day. That fits with my opinion that music education is a mandatory part of a rounded eduction, and my reason for sending my kids to lessons in the first place.

The second is the immediacy of reward. Practice for an hour a day, and in ten years you'll start to see some vague benefits. Versuss, learn this exercise well or on Tuesday you'll get a bad grade. I know for myself when I had to play a church service on Sunday it tended to focus my practice, kind of like a hanging in the morning. (in more ways than one!)

In what other activity do we NOT give kids regular objective feedback and comparison to their peers?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1404902 - 03/27/10 12:39 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11514
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Culturally, kids have been conditioned to accept the academic evaluation and grading systems.

Culturally, the system has done incredible damage to the will to learn, ability to learn, both to learning in general, and of specific subjects. What is fantastic about private music lessons is that the student is finally outside of that system. Why bring that kind of damage into the studio as well?

If as a parent I needed any kind of "assessment" it would be for the purpose of helping my child, collaborating with the child and the teacher. The most effective system for that is what is already in place - weekly feedback in lessons. What needs to be worked at are the little things that crop up, and in the long run that creates the large successes. Then I can imagine at some point the teacher might say "Do you remember when XYZ was hard? Look what you have achieved." However, the main person who needs this assessment is the student, whatever age. He's the one doing the work.

As soon as you get into approval, judgment, the focus changes. The student is no longer working on music in order to learn music, but in order to get approval or not get disapproval. The motivation toward what is being learned, and interest in the subject, are weakened.

In tutoring kids I've seen stultification through the school system. Kids who were doing complex calculations with their peers couldn't do much simpler math. They prepared and planned their gaming strategies with care, or sports, or a hobby. But school related things were dashed of. The school things did not "belong" to them. They belonged to the teacher, whom they thought they had to please, and the institutions who gave them grades - it had nothing to do with them. Why on earth would you want to bring that kind of atmosphere into the studio as well? This is the seat of apathy in the first place for many.

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#1404913 - 03/27/10 12:48 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
Culturally, kids have been conditioned to accept the academic evaluation and grading systems.

Culturally, the system has done incredible damage to the will to learn, ability to learn, both to learning in general, and of specific subjects. What is fantastic about private music lessons is that the student is finally outside of that system. Why bring that kind of damage into the studio as well?



That sounds plausible but there is a great deal of evidence here on this forum that it is false.

The single most popular issue on this forum is "kids don't practice."

And they don't.

Nor do they succeed. Of the zillions of kids who start piano lessons, the number who learn to play fluently, ever, is very small.

Math teachers don't gripe about kids not doing homework. If they don't, they fail them. So most do the work.

I'm not talking about that rare highly motivated student destined for the conservatory and the solo classical career. Just as the math teacher doesn't focus his teaching towards the one career quantum physicist he may encounter in his lifetime. The average student can benefit from more structure.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1404917 - 03/27/10 12:50 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11514
Loc: Canada
Quote:
That sounds plausible but there is a great deal of evidence here on this forum that it is false.

The single most popular issue on this forum is "kids don't practice."

But might that not be cause and effect? It is that very attitude which is causing this problem.

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#1404926 - 03/27/10 01:01 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: keystring]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Piano lessons are very much like the concept of "bloom where you are planted."

I don't think using grades to make a preferred outcome more likely really work that well for a child. How do you grade a child for blooming?

That's using a threat or fear about getting the grade as being more important than simply accepting the steady, progressive, learning environment that meets the students needs.

There are many ups and downs to piano lessons without adding grade points or the lack of them to the equation.

What is the reason we would want to "quantify" with a number or letter where he stands in music lessons on any given today? We can see and hear his progress by listening and observing him making music. We can speak about his strengths and weaknesses but those are changing constantly in music. This is not just testing and grading of academic answers, it's about someone's growth and development in coordinating his mental and physical skills in music training, his being.

Exactly how do you measure running water in a river? And, why would you? A piano student is a study in progress, flowing toward a destination like a river - something in motion.

And, if we grade the student, then maybe we should also grade the teacher and grade the parental support. Oh! Cans of worms!

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#1404937 - 03/27/10 01:18 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
My experience is that parents want to hear the good things, but not the bad things. And here, we have postings about parent's wanting accountability and wanting to know what the problems are.

If a student isn't practicing, his back up support, the parents, need to be involved in helping him at home gain a practicing habit. Without practice, we achieve nothing. Suzuki says "Only the effort that is actually expended will bear results." It might be "nagging", but it might also be "encouraging" the child in a positive way. Having music as a priority in the home.

Knowing there is a practice deficit, the teacher needs to teach the child how to practice at his lessons and emphasize preparing for the next lesson.

Seeing piano lessons as a personal growth process instead of as tasks upon tasks that have to be done, goes a long way toward accepting the up's and down's we're going to have together during lessons.

Piano lessons are all about forming habits and creating flow which I think is very much like breathing naturally. Keep breathing, stay in lessons. Piano lessons are an experience in living up to potential one breath at a time.

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#1404941 - 03/27/10 01:21 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
There is nothing romantic about it really. Not grading piano lessons does not entail allowing your kid to avoid practice. I think it is quite all right and necessary in fact to insist on a practice routine.

The real issue here is what are you, as a parent, going to do about a "bad piano grade"? I know that some parents attach the same reward and punishment system to piano practice, but that rarely pays off in long term dividends. In middle and high school, no punishment, not even taking away electronic gadgets, will be sufficient to coax decent practice. After all at that stage, it is learning musicality that matters and not checking off the theory worksheets..

A balanced approach whereby you help the child in his /her younger years to commit to a practice routine and to enjoy music seems to be a better strategy. Your hope is to eventually reach a point (in the early teens) where there is at least a substantial component of self-motivation to music study. Otherwise the enterprise is doomed to fail, IMHO. Of course, like any generalization, this may not apply to all kids and all families.

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#1404947 - 03/27/10 01:30 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Andromaque]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Different strokes for different folks. With private pupils I have the luxury of meeting parents very regularly. The school kids are nearly 100% first generation music students (parents have never had lessons - in fact some practically denigrate it). You're basically doing their job for them, otherwise only the exceptional make any progress.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1404958 - 03/27/10 01:38 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: TimR
Practice for an hour a day, and in ten years you'll start to see some vague benefits. Versuss, learn this exercise well or on Tuesday you'll get a bad grade.


Sancte bovinus, what the heck is that!

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#1404960 - 03/27/10 01:40 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Andromaque]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Andromaque

A balanced approach whereby you help the child in his /her younger years to commit to a practice routine and to enjoy music seems to be a better strategy. Your hope is to eventually reach a point (in the early teens) where there is at least a substantial component of self-motivation to music study.


Sancte bovinus, that's it!

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#1404963 - 03/27/10 01:42 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11514
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Practice for an hour a day, and in ten years you'll start to see some vague benefits.

First of all, it's not how long, but how. Secondly, if a child starts at age 12, when he is in grade 8 at school, and wants to audition for a good placement (which you do mid-grade 12), then he has less than 5 years to be competitive. Not ten. "Vague benefits" certainly wouldn't cut it. That was our scenario.

Landorrano, what's with the bovines? And if bovinus, male, does that constitute "bull"? grin

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#1404996 - 03/27/10 02:39 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: keystring]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: keystring
[
Landorrano, what's with the bovines? And if bovinus, male, does that constitute "bull"? grin


"Holy Cow", in sophisticated Andorran..
oops is that a bad word, Kreisler?

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#1405028 - 03/27/10 03:51 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
I see performances as their report card. The parent and child can see for themselves what they have achieved and what other kids have achieved. It motivates kids just like a test.

I have given skills checklists to a parent who requested it. A primer skills checklist so the parent can see what we will be covering...and now a level 1 skills list.
_________________________
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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#1405083 - 03/27/10 06:22 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
Practice for an hour a day, and in ten years you'll start to see some vague benefits.

Secondly, if a child starts at age 12, when he is in grade 8 at school, and wants to audition for a good placement (which you do mid-grade 12), then he has less than 5 years to be competitive.


I'm not talking about that child.

That child, preparing for a competitive placement out of high school, is already motivated.

That child is very likely failing math because it isn't important to him.

I'm talking about the other 99.99% of children, who pass all their other school subjects but do not practice enough piano. It strikes me that the same grading system that is HIGHLY effective at producing performance in the other subjects MIGHT improve piano as well.
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#1405085 - 03/27/10 06:24 PM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3146
Loc: Virginia, USA

Quote:
Secondly, if a child starts at age 12, when he is in grade 8 at school, and wants to audition for a good placement (which you do mid-grade 12), then he has less than 5 years to be competitive.


I'm not talking about that child.

That child, preparing for a competitive placement out of high school, is already motivated.

That child is very likely failing math because it isn't important to him.

I'm talking about the other 99.99% of children, who pass all their other school subjects but do not practice enough piano. It strikes me that the same grading system that is HIGHLY effective at producing performance in the other subjects MIGHT improve piano as well.

What I'm really talking about are reinforcement schedules, in psychological terms. Sooner is better, oftener is better. Working for a benefit that may be years away does not motivate people as well as working for a monthly paycheck, which is not as good as working for a weekly exam, etc.



Edited by TimR (03/27/10 06:26 PM)
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#1405342 - 03/28/10 06:59 AM Re: Does anyone do progress reports? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11514
Loc: Canada
TimR, originally my point was more in the direction of questioning the idea of 10 years of practicing giving "10 years of vague benefits". That's rather dismal. If it took that long to reach so little, then the extreme case of the late starter needing to reach a certain proficiency early would be impossible. He would only be half ways toward "vague benefits". I already know that isn't the case. We could get into the old story of effective practice. In other scenarios in the ABF we have discussed the poor prognosis of adults, where you cited your experience with choirs. But there, too, the question of how people practice was not addressed. I joined and quit 3 choirs in the last decade, because I outstripped each of them, and rehearsal was an agony. With the first, I still had almost no musical training. But the reason for my rapid progress and their snail pace was because of how I approached things, and they didn't.

That's for the first point. This is a teacher forum. How we practice, and with what attitude, will affect the results. As student this part is my responsibility. The teachers are the guides toward it too.

You brought up something broader:
Quote:
That child, preparing for a competitive placement out of high school, is already motivated. ..... Working for a benefit that may be years away does not motivate people ...

This reflects a common life attitude in our society. That is - our activities being governed by distant goals that have been set by someone else. Within this scenario, we don't do a thing for its own sake, or out of interest, but because of some other thing. It is so ingrained in society that we take it for granted. I am not calling it right or wrong, but point out that it exists and other options exist.

Small children are fascinated by a thing and pursue it for no other purpose. There is an inner drive. The toddler learning to walk, or get at the cookie jar, is absolutely focused on that task. The skills he acquires while scheming to get at the cookies are secondary. If as adults we could be as focussed and single-minded, the things we could achieve! But society interferes with this natural ability. We start directing people. They should not do math because it's interesting, but because they will get high marks and our approval. We call this "motivation". It isn't. That is ... the child no longer aims to excel at math. He aims to get good grades. That is something else. The math. itself is no longer interesting or important. He is disengaged from his activities. What he does at school is for the teacher or adults. His real interests and pursuits are the other things he does. It is an alienation.

We have induced kids to work toward external secondary things which are other people's goals, and not their own. The grades, diplomas, stars on the wall comparing him with other kids, are all part of it. That is his world and so it becomes his mentality. That does not mean it is human nature. IF music can be a personal interest, pursued with fascination for its own sake, then instituting that same thing will kill it the same way. That is, the kid will practice for approval, grades etc. But he himself won't be in it in the same way. Will he dare explore and play, during which he risks making mistakes, if approval and high grades are at stake? It's a sad thought.

Quote:
It strikes me that the same grading system that is HIGHLY effective at producing performance ....


As an educator, I'd like to examine this. WHAT is achieved? As far as testing is concerned, the child who knows how to take tastes and guess what type of answer is wanted will achieve high grades. Getting high grades is not the same as understanding the material. Students who have a much greater understanding may get a low grade because they can't enter the institution's mindset. What is WORSE is that the student who is fascinated by the subject and wants to explore, is prevented from doing so, since he has to prepare for these tests in their limited scope of measurable results.

If you are a teacher then you will know that teachers are forced to work toward things that are unimportant but can be measured, and real teaching and learning are severely hampered. Are you aware that teachers form a disproportionate percentage of homeschooling parents because teachers are the most likely to keep their kids out of school in the formative years?

Quote:
Sooner is better, oftener is better. Working for a benefit that may be years away does not motivate people as well as working for a monthly paycheck, which is not as good as working for a weekly exam, etc.

What motivates is having your own goals, and then deciding how to reach those goals. Some of them are "of necessity" goals - we need to be able to read, write, and do math, in order to get by. Some are "by fascination" goals.

What helped me when I was in school was to get engrossed in the subject. Frankly, I found grades and other people's assessments of me annoying and beside the point. These points and grades and stuff are boring as heck, and it would have been hard to stay focused for any length of time while chasing that carrot.

Work-wise - There are people who are engrossed in their job for its own sake. Most often they are probably self-employed people. That choice is certainly not just due to monetary considerations: you work harder, earn less, carry greater risks, and there is no security for old age, accident, or health. So why do do we do it? This is the other kind of motivation. It's the more old fashioned satisfaction that the craftsman had who took pride in his work. Musicianship belongs to this craftsmanship as well.

Tests and reports do have their roles. But if they are used as motivational devices I become uneasy.

Call this a Sunday philosophical moment. wink

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