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#1529835 - 10/07/10 12:40 AM What to look for in a trial lesson?
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Daughter (6yr) has a trial lesson with a potential new teacher this weekend.

Her old teacher - keen, friendly, enthusiastic and fun would of course be missed, but realistically he's been outside of his comfort zone for some time and hasnt addressed or even looked at her main weakness - lack of reading ability. He's a great jazz/contemporary player himself and I get the feeling that he has no particular bother about teaching her to read or work on technique. We'll quite possibly look at him to teach our younger daughter in her early years, who's keen to follow in her sisters foosteps, but its time for the eldest to move on after shes sat her AMEB Gr3 exam sometime in the next few weeks.

So - we have a trail lesson with a local school that claims to be a specialist in teaching young talented musicians (With plenty of competitive success and recognition to back up the claims). Obviously I'm keen to see if my daughter 'gels' with any potential new teacher and will be interested to hear what they suggest she work on.

My main concern is that a school that specialises in students who reach high standards quickly might be too much of a 'hothouse' environment striving for excellence whilst missing out on the all important 'keeping it fun'. How can they churn out students reaching Gr8 before high school age without them suffering some kind of enthusiasm burn-out?

Anyone here have any wisdom of what to look out for, what to ask? Any alarm bells that should ring in my head and have us running for the hills in the other direction?
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1529850 - 10/07/10 01:06 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
I think one thing not to overlook at a trial lesson is whether you and your daughter genuinely like the new teacher. A teacher who's brilliant and gives all the right assignments, but who you hate, might be OK for a university student - but not for a 6 year old.

It certainly isn't the only thing, but it definitely counts to have someone you feel comfortable with right away.

If you get a chance to talk to other parents at the new school, that might be very helpful for you.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1529860 - 10/07/10 01:15 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
I'm glad to hear you're looking around for a new teacher. I think you will find it to be well worth the effort when you find a teacher who has experience teaching students of the ability and commitment level of your daughter.

Often those students who are doing high grades at young ages practice very long hours. My teacher has a student who is in year 11 and doing his LMus, and when I asked him how many hours he practices he said "I've only been able to do 2 and a half hours a day lately because of homework for year 11." Only! The suggested practice times per age in the studio policy will give you a good clue as to what is expected, and if they far exceed the time you are wanting your daughter to put into piano study, then it's probably not a good fit.

The number one thing *I* personally want in a piano teacher is passion. Last thing you want is a burnt out teacher. If they seem excited about playing piano, they will hopefully infect your daughter with their enthusiasm. Along with that - attention to detail and a broad knowledge base, which is harder to observe in a trial lesson, but perhaps you could come up with some tactful questions to ask during the interview to guage that?
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1529871 - 10/07/10 01:30 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Of course if we do change teachers its going to be VERY hard dropping the old one. He's such a nice guy, we get on really well and he really enjoys the lessons (even if he does spend a large proportion of them saying 'Wow - thats awesome - I wish my other students could do that!', and 'I cant believe you picked that up so quickly' etc etc - which gets a bit tedious after a while).

Telling him we're going elsewhere is going to be like breaking up with a clingy, lovable but ultimately incompatible girlfriend who has no idea its coming..... It makes my stomach churn
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1529882 - 10/07/10 01:54 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
Yeah I'll bet, but you can always soften the blow by giving him a card saying how much you have enjoyed the lessons with him etc etc (everything he has done *right*) and a thankyou present.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1529884 - 10/07/10 02:01 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
If you like the current teacher (personally), have you considered breaking the news by asking him his recommendations for teachers who are more reading- and technique-oriented? It might be easier than just "Umm, we're leaving."
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1529959 - 10/07/10 03:57 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5271
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: DadAgain
My main concern is that a school that specialises in students who reach high standards quickly might be too much of a 'hothouse' environment striving for excellence whilst missing out on the all important 'keeping it fun'.


I've seen some of these students who can play Mozart Sonatas and Bach Preludes and Fugues by age 8. They also can't sight read anything and their music theory is god-awful. A lot depends on the individual teacher. Some responsible teachers will make sure all the bases are covered.

I just got a transfer student who is playing level 7-8 stuff after just 4 years of lessons, but her fingering is all over the place and her idea of theory is "just memorize the answers" with absolutely NO correlation to her pieces. She can't even identify an authentic cadence in her sonata, and she doesn't even know the key signature for F Major. crazy
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#1530029 - 10/07/10 07:19 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Have you talked to your current teacher about your concerns?

If it is going to be so hard to break up w/him, and he is so well liked, and has obvious strengths, perhaps telling him what you have posted here would cause him to change direction and begin teaching her reading and technique.

At the very least, it would make the breakup easier.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1530043 - 10/07/10 07:45 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: AZNpiano]
ntw001 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 12
Loc: Kent, UK.
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: DadAgain
My main concern is that a school that specialises in students who reach high standards quickly might be too much of a 'hothouse' environment striving for excellence whilst missing out on the all important 'keeping it fun'.


I've seen some of these students who can play Mozart Sonatas and Bach Preludes and Fugues by age 8. They also can't sight read anything and their music theory is god-awful. A lot depends on the individual teacher. Some responsible teachers will make sure all the bases are covered.

I just got a transfer student who is playing level 7-8 stuff after just 4 years of lessons, but her fingering is all over the place and her idea of theory is "just memorize the answers" with absolutely NO correlation to her pieces. She can't even identify an authentic cadence in her sonata, and she doesn't even know the key signature for F Major. crazy


Sadly I was also one of these students (although perhaps not quite so prodigious). I kept my first teacher from gr1 through gr7, before my parents realised she wasn't really up to the job. My new teacher was shocked at my lack of finger strength, sightreading ability and music theory. (I only took gr5 theory because it was a prerequisite to taking gr6 and upwards practical and didn't do any further grades of theory). I was also, almost exclusively, restricted to classical pieces, with little pop, rock, contemporary or jazz. I reached gr8 (although only with a merit) by the time I was 17. Thankfully the new teacher had more time to work on my younger sister, who got her distinction.

Now I am older and wiser, I'm looking to play more jazz and rock and improvise/compose more with electronic keyboards I hoarded over the years, and I find that all those years of grades have very little relevance to what I actually want to do.

If I could do it all again, I would ensure I had a teacher who worked on finger strength from an early age (not just doing scales, because thats what you need to do for grades), focussed more on theory and sightreading, and perhaps took a little longer to go through my grades. Racing through grades does not make you a musician, although its probably the main metric schools use to advertise their ability to teach.
_________________________
Classically trained many years ago.
Currently playing a Kawai CA63

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#1530084 - 10/07/10 09:31 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
DadAgain,
You may know from posts this summer that I overreacted to a student leaving my studio. But I learned from it that my success does not depend on one particular child continuing lessons.

Last week I had a parent say they have found a new teacher 40 minutes closer to their house and they'll be leaving. I let him know it was no problem. It really is no problem now. We teachers can learn to let go easily, confident that we will still have plenty of work to do.

I think it's best to be gracious, yet direct...not beat around the bush and delay giving notice.
_________________________
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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#1531431 - 10/09/10 03:02 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Saw potential new teacher today:

- Daughter played 1 piece through and immediately teacher picked up that reading was her weak spot. She quizzed daugher on a few notes to see if she could actually identify them in a score correctly (she can) - and then asked her a question about reading rhythms and how shes learnt them (truth is predominantly via imitation).

So within 2 minutes of meeting daughter she made a decent call about her main weakness and began the beginnings of exploring precisely where that weakness comes from. (Including a bit of a dig at the business practices of her current 'music school')

We had a bit of a chat about practice habits, discussed the importance of being able to read and understand music as well as regurgitate it and talked about how the school likes to get students together to perform, play together and socialise regularly.

She said she was keen to take daughter under her tutelage despite having currently a list of 20 or so students seeking her as a teacher (There are a number of teachers at the school - but this was with the school founder and 'principal teacher').

There was a mention of other students she has who are also performing at levels normaly considered 'way' above usual for their age (including a 13yr old doing L.Mus?! and a couple more young teens doing A.Mus).

In all the 'vibe' despite all this superyoung-talent house thing was quite relaxed and friendly and daughter was very happy to play and talk with teacher. (and keen to have lessons there until she twigged that it meant leaving her old teacher behind).

....So after a discussion with the wife - it looks like we're going to change! We tried chasing down her existing teacher (who does teach on Saturdays) - but he was off sick today so we'll talk early next week (which I'm dreading).
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1531611 - 10/09/10 11:25 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
If it feels like the right thing to do and you and your daughter are both comfortable, then it's not a hard decision.

Students moving from one teacher to another happens all the time. It certainly can be a blow to the ego sometimes, but it's not usually a surprise. Dread is not required, just be kind and get to the point. "We decided to move to a teacher who emphasises reading more" is fine. You don't have to go into all kinds of other reasons and/or criticisms unless he asks; even then, keep it simple and non-confrontational.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1531919 - 10/09/10 06:59 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 261
We had to transition to a new teacher when my son was about that age, for very similar reasons. It was hard breaking it to the old teacher, but the move was WELL worth it.

Good luck! smile
_________________________
Amateur musician, piano and violin parent

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#1532676 - 10/10/10 10:48 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
How did she suggest she will go about filling in those gaps?

Can you please keep us informed as to how the lessons go? We all recieve transfers who have gaps in theory and sightreading and it would be interesting to hear how an experienced teacher deals with this.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1532718 - 10/11/10 12:23 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: ToriAnais]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Originally Posted By: mitts_off
How did she suggest she will go about filling in those gaps?


Ok as I said - after asking whether reading was an issue she pointed to a few notes in Daughters music and established that she can correctly identify notes from the score easily (slightly slower in bass clef). She then pulled out a previously unseen bit of music to establish that daughters labelling skills were not just 'learnt' for that piece.

She then pointed to a dotted quaver, semi-quaver rhythmic passage and asked how to 'say' that rhythm (establishing rhythmic decoding skills) - this is where daughter was stumped and revealed that her main tool is imitation.


So in no time at all she had narrowed down 'trouble reading' to 'good note identification - but poor rhythm reading'. Further questioning to establish ability to identify patterns such broken chord triads, intervals etc revealed more weakness - but not as much as the rhythmic.

It seemed to me that this 2 minute excercise was a precursor to working out a plan for bolstering the troublespots with daughters reading. Precise details of whats in that plan werent yet revealed.

I'll let you know more after a couple of lessons (1st one in 2 weeks!). smile
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1532807 - 10/11/10 03:18 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
For a 6 year old to be learning primarily through imitation is developmentally appropriate, btw.
_________________________
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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#1532817 - 10/11/10 03:48 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Your main concern should be whether they teach a healthy technique. Are their students free from unnecessary tension?
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1532862 - 10/11/10 05:25 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
Elissa - I think by imitation he means by hearing the piece played and then copying aurally, without connecting it with the notation or having any awareness of the rhythm. Not by someone saying "ta ta ta-a" or "blue blue two-oo" or whatever form of verbalising the rhythms the teacher chooses and getting the child to copy/say it with them. If that is the case, you wouldn't think that is developmentally appropriate for a 6 year old would you?! Particularly one who is doing 3rd grade AMEB?
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1532884 - 10/11/10 06:43 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Until the age of 7 the most effective means of learning is through observation and imitation - and also through an almost obsessive repetition of the things that the child finds interesting. This is just how humans learn in those early years. So it's completely developmentally appropriate (from a child development point of view) for a 6 year old to primarily draw their learning from imitation and observation.

It's a completely different question to ask if it is appropriate for a Grade 3 student to be working this way.

And that's where it becomes complex with young students who are progressing at these accelerated rates. It can be completely appropriate to use a methodology with a Grade 3 6 year old that you would scoff at using with a Grade 3 10 year old or a Grade 3 15 year old.

I think that having a 6 year old sit exams is probably the developmentally inappropriate thing to be doing here! But that's a statement about 6 year olds, not about this particular 6 year old.

It's just that hearing that a 6 year old is learning in a developmentally appropriate fashion shouldn't really be a cause for concern, even if one usually expects Grade 3 students to be working in a more adult fashion.
_________________________
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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#1532912 - 10/11/10 07:50 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
Ben Crosland Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 417
Loc: Worcester, UK
Well said, Elissa. Not to mention the fact that this particular student is 6 now - how old was she when she started? The cognitive abilities of a 4/5 year old are significantly different from that of a 6yr old, too - so it is absolutely reasonable for her to have learned complex rhythms through imitation, IMO.

I think it can be all too easy for a new teacher to point the finger of accusation at the apparent failings of another's student, without any understanding of the intricacies and history of this particular teacher/student dynamic.
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Teacher, Composer, Sound Designer

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#1532949 - 10/11/10 08:55 AM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
As the mother of a 6-year-old girl, I agree completely with Elissa's post above. smile

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#1533318 - 10/11/10 06:11 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Interesting discussion.

and I do take that point that for most 6 years olds, imitation and repetition probably are the best way to learn anything. Its certainly the main focus of school work (repetition of simple single digit addition sums, repetitious reading of the most banal tedious books ever written etc etc).

The problem comes when you have a 6 year old who moves past that. Daughter has declared school to be a place where "You dont learn anything - but its fun to be with my friends". She has chewed up everything thrown at her at school just like she did with the Piano when she started (18 months ago just after her 5th /day).

She now gets home from school and writes her own stories, creates pictures and sculptures, reads age inappropriate novels (currently in middle of Harry Potter) and then tucks into encyclopedias to learn new stuff - without ANY direction from us at all. I'd say she's moved past the point where plain 'imitation' is her best way of learning regardless of what might be expected of somone her age.

If shes happy reading the written word so fluently why is it such a ridiculous proposition to suggest she might be ready to read music 'fluently'?


Edited by DadAgain (10/11/10 06:14 PM)
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1533332 - 10/11/10 06:30 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: DadAgain
If shes happy reading the written word so fluently why is it such a ridiculous proposition to suggest she might be ready to read music 'fluently'?
It isn't, not at all.

The "average" one-year-old is probably very close to nearly every one-year-old's experience. But six-year-olds are all over the map, and the what the average 6 "ought to be" is sometimes extremely far from one's current situation.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1533334 - 10/11/10 06:31 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
well that's the thing: it's not at all inappropriate in this case!!

But seriously, the repetition at school is nothing like the observation and imitation your daughter has been engaging in while learning her pieces. Schools are not designed to create customised learning experiences for students, so no wonder your daughter is bored. [I must confess my experience of school was very similar to your description above!!!]

There is no reason why your daughter shouldn't be an excellent reader. A new btw.... a child can learn to be an astonishing reader via observation and imitation.... I think it's good that you are seeking a teacher who will be more holistically attuned to your daughter's needs and interests.
_________________________
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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#1533384 - 10/11/10 08:02 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
So let me get this right - you guys are saying that pre-7, kids shouldn't look at notation at all. Not up = right down=left, not lines notes and space notes, no notation at all. Everything should be rote learnt??

I find under 7s particularly difficult (apart from the odd genius) so this is very interesting to me. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong. But how do you give them practice assignments, if it's all in their heads??

What book/s do you use for under 7s?
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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#1533395 - 10/11/10 08:31 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 261
Originally Posted By: DadAgain

If shes happy reading the written word so fluently why is it such a ridiculous proposition to suggest she might be ready to read music 'fluently'?


thumb My kids are just like this. We actually had to remove my child from school after first grade to homeschool. We felt we had no choice in his case. His younger sister is following suit.

The problem I have is trying to find a balance between providing them with challenges and having plenty of time to just be kid. Music lessons really gave them their first opportunity to be challenged. It's a balancing act!

Kids like this do need a teacher that is willing to look at them as an individual instead of as just another 6 year old who is developmentally ready to do X, Y, and Z. To me it sounds like you are making excellent decisions in regards to your particular child! I totally get it. Been there, done that.

Good luck with your transition!
_________________________
Amateur musician, piano and violin parent

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#1533410 - 10/11/10 09:09 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: ToriAnais]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: mitts_off
So let me get this right - you guys are saying that pre-7, kids shouldn't look at notation at all. Not up = right down=left, not lines notes and space notes, no notation at all. Everything should be rote learnt??

I find under 7s particularly difficult (apart from the odd genius) so this is very interesting to me. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong. But how do you give them practice assignments, if it's all in their heads??

What book/s do you use for under 7s?
That's an extreme response to the observation that kids under 7 learn through observation and imitation! My own 3.5 year old son just love spelling words, and we do plenty of activities around recognition of shapes and symbols (because he just loves it). I'm no advocate of delaying literacy until kids are 7 - literacy is something that can be a natural part of life right from the start.

But reading rhythm is a whole lot more complex than identifying and distinguishing between pentagons and hexagons, not least because tempo impacts on the experience of the same rhythmic shape. Rhythmic shapes are about patterns of relationships, not simply about straight-forward identity. So whereas I would think that a 6 year could (in theory, rarely in practice!) happily identify note names and pitch patterns such as root position triads and intervals - even sequences - I would be much more surprised to hear of a 6 year old with a full reading literacy of the rhythms expected in performance at a Grade 3 level.

We are talking dotted quaver + semiquaver (dotted eighth note + sixteenth note) = dotted crotchet + quaver (dotted quarter note + eighth note) = dotted minim + crotchet (dotted half note + quarter note) - just as one example. The same performance/listening experience can be notated a number of ways depending on the context provided by the tempo. This is a very complex literacy which does not have a correspondence in English language literacy expected of children under the age of 10 (in fact, arguably, it's beyond the literacy requirements for reading English at any level).

Further, when playing the piano this rhythmic literacy requires an understanding of how to manifest these patterns in two hands, so there is a physical coordination challenge that other forms of literacy are missing entirely.

Now, it's this level of intensity that makes learning to play the piano so effective in increasing the IQ of students (who practice). So it's not a bad thing.

mitts_off: your bigger question (how do you work with 4/5/6 year olds if you don't work primarily from a book) is enormous. And you identify a major challenge that simply has not been met by print music publishers (funnily enough!).
_________________________
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
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#1533416 - 10/11/10 09:14 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Also, to clarify: I wasn't saying that kids under a certain age should not be learning to read. I just said notation is not the most effective learning tool for kids of this age - for sound developmental reasons kids learn through observation, imitation, exploration and repetition up to about the age of 7. Imagine if a baby had to read a book about how to walk, for instance - RIDICULOUS!!!! It's about trying things out and keeping on trying until they succeed.

And like I said in the previous post, my own son has had high levels of 'literacy' (identifying letters, shapes, etc.) since he was about 15 months old, so I have no interest in perpetuating any kind of "let's keep children reading-innocent" nonsense. Kids can read better than they know, with the right (customised) teaching approach.
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#1533451 - 10/11/10 10:23 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: ToriAnais]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: mitts_off
So let me get this right - you guys are saying that pre-7, kids shouldn't look at notation at all. Not up = right down=left, not lines notes and space notes, no notation at all. Everything should be rote learnt??


No, that's not it. Just that at age 6, children mostly learn through imitation and lots of repetition, as Elissa said. They are learning through play, and are still a little bit in that "suspension of disbelief" stage, so you can really tap their imaginations to help them learn. The characters on the page are still real to them.

For my DD, after learning 12 notes on the staff, it is time to go back and review a few notes at a time, because it's a little too much and she gets frustrated. But we do work on notation skills.

Originally Posted By: mitts_off
I find under 7s particularly difficult (apart from the odd genius) so this is very interesting to me. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong. But how do you give them practice assignments, if it's all in their heads??

What book/s do you use for under 7s?


Me, too! smile "Under 7s" require tons of patience, and I find I have to "think like a 4-to-6-year-old" the entire time. Mostly they are learning through play/fun. That said, they are very capable of learning the notation, but it has to be gradual and with a lot of spiral teaching (that's the term, right?).

I use My First Piano Adventures with this age group, and after Book B, the Gold Star Performance Primer level to go along with Book C (because book C has no CD yet). I also use some of my own and other teachers' materials to supplement. We sing a lot and tap rhythms, and use movement, lots of "manipulatives" and games.

Having children ages 3 and 6, I am now very interested in learning how best to teach this age, too. It is fascinating to watch them learn. Sometimes a little befuddling as well! smile
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#1533457 - 10/11/10 10:32 PM Re: What to look for in a trial lesson? [Re: DadAgain]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
FYI - I had 'the' conversation with daughters now ex-teacher. He was ery understanding and said, "Sad as I am to see her go, you are without question doing the right thing! With more expert guidance she is going to do amazing things".

Wife was at the music school (with yonger daughter) today and spoke to the schools boss who again re-iterated that it was definately the best thing for our daughter and that her teacher had actually suggested to him several times that they try and find a more specialist teacher to transfer to.

So all is good... everyone happy - just one final parting lesson tonight and a final performance in the annual school concert thing in 2 weeks time to go.


Quick question: Parting gift to teacher - Wine, Whisky or something else? hmmmm
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