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#1652441 - 04/01/11 11:02 AM Need advice about daughter's piano lessons
LC_piano_player Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 20
Loc: San Diego, CA
Hello Piano World friends, I am hoping here to gain some advice about whether and/or how to continue with piano lessons for my daughter. She is 11, and has been taking lessons for 4 years. She is talented; when she puts in the energy, she can play well (got CM honor recital last year), but gosh she hates to practice. She loves PLAYING for fun, but doesn't have much time for this, and brings only regret and complaining to her practice sessions. She feels that practicing is dull, that completing a piece only leads to a recital (aversive cuz stressful) or yet another difficult piece. For the past year her interest has really flagged dramatically and she is willing to just put in the minimum of work (2-3 days/week, maybe 30 minutes each) and make very slow progress. She actively tried to do poorly on her CM exam this year, because she didn't want to do the recital. Her (our, since I take lessons too) teacher is excellent technically, but rather old-fashioned and stern in her approach, and I'm suspecting that more reward and fun, maybe some modern pieces, would be better. I just read about the Simply Music program, which sounds more fun, but don't know if it is considered a good method or not. How does one know when to stop lessons? Should we find a new teacher? The Bastiens are nearby; woud that be better? Any advice would be so appreciated -- this has been difficult for us. We have looked over Practiceopedia, which worked for a time, but not any more.

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#1652463 - 04/01/11 11:26 AM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Gary001 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/08
Posts: 201
Loc: UK
I'm not a teacher so this may be bad advice, but I'm sure someone will pipe up if so. However, if she's so against recitals, would dropping those help at all? Does the current teacher require their students participate or is it optional?

Piece wise, maybe the teacher can work in the odd piece that she really wants to play? Perhaps the odd "easier" piece in between the more challenging ones?

If she likes playing for fun, there should be a way to keep the learning fun, even if progress has to slow down a little to do so. Some progress is imo better than reaching the point where she decides to quit.

Hopefully some of the teachers here can offer advice based on first hand experience. Sounds like it could be quite a common situation.
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#1652477 - 04/01/11 11:41 AM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
To me, it just sounds like a new teacher is in order for her. Or perhaps a new instrument? Piano is a great groundwork for other instruments.
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#1652521 - 04/01/11 12:41 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
pianolassie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/11
Posts: 21
Loc: Colorado
What made lessons fun for me as a kid was being allowed to work on music that I enjoyed as well as classical pieces. I loved going to the local music store and picking out modern music from my favorite pop artists or movies. I was very motivated to learn those on my own and one of my teachers was happy to work those into my lessons along with my other things as well.

I think of it like teaching a child to love to read I guess - does it really matter if it is a novel or a comic book as long as they are reading and getting personal enjoyment and fulfillment out of it? In the long run they still learn to read but they enjoyed the process more.
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#1652525 - 04/01/11 12:47 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
LC_piano_player Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 20
Loc: San Diego, CA
Thanks so much for your comments! It sounds like you all think she should be able to enjoy her music, by picking out pieces she wants to play. I'll take her to the store and pick some things out. Maybe, just maybe, her teacher will work these into the lesson... but then maybe not -- I think it's unlikely, actually.

Any thoughts or experiences with the "Simply Music" approach? This is from Australia originally, introduced around 1998 I believe... It certainly sounds like fun; but I have no idea if there is focus on good technique or theory.

Thanks again!

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#1652541 - 04/01/11 01:19 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
LC, there is a thread here somewhere on Simply Music. Do a site search and you should find it.

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#1652584 - 04/01/11 02:13 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Chopinmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 65
If it is any comfort to you, she is(you are) not alone. 11 is the age when practicing on a piano is not something a kid would rather do. I assume you daughter is in middle school, you know how busy the middle schoolers can be, with loads of home works and after school activities.

At age 11, going to the recitals is not as exciting as it used to be. They usually are the oldest ones at the recitals, they are not getting the "uhs, wows" from the crowd as they did when they were little. They think it is uncool anymore to hang around with a bunch of 5 year olds, who are the ones now getting the most admirations from the crowds.

I bet the schools in San Diego have Orchestra class where kids can play ensemble, be it duet, trios, quartet, ..., kids usually love it because they get to hang out with new friends.

Definitely talk to the teacher about letting your daughter pick her own music. At this age, Bach may be too boring and Chopin too sentimental. Girls would rather play Hannah Montana and boys Star wars.

If your daughter decides that she had enough piano and wants to quit, don't fret about it. She has laid all the foundations, she can pick it up anytime later in life.

It is a challenging time, I am with you.
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#1652614 - 04/01/11 03:18 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
There is a thread here somewhere about "student saver" pieces. Something easy enough to learn quickly, sounds impressive to their friends. Some of the ones I've used for students in this predicament are:
A River Flows in You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhN7SG-H-3k
Through the Kalaiedscope http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeRW-5c8xi0
Comptine d'un autre été l'après midi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBZPa-kLLCE

Sometimes students need a breather.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#1652705 - 04/01/11 05:51 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The problem may be with the piano you use, an acoustic. For certain individuals, an acoustic, which can be heard a block away, is simply too loud, and it will eventually start to grate upon their nerves and cause them to quit playing. This is not a new problem. In the late 19th century, silent keyboards were first introduced, to address this very problem. A silent keyboard enabled a pianist to save his ears and nerves and thus practice longer and develop better technique. Silent keyboards used to be very popular with concert pianists in the 1930's; Arrau used one all his life.

Silent keyboards are no longer manufactured, but there is now something even better: digital pianos, which are much the same in principle. This is what you should try for your daughter. Note: if the teacher is old-school, she might strongly object to a digital, but you simply ignore her, because the basic premise behind digitals is actually very old, rooted in the 19th century.

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#1652718 - 04/01/11 06:12 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2648
laugh

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#1652720 - 04/01/11 06:13 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Gyro, while you sometimes find a good way to include that blib into a newcomer's post, it doesn't even make sense this time.

--

Sounds like what she needs is a step back from the competitive stuff, and maybe to hover around the same level for a while. Maybe her teacher is pushing her too much.

And yes, she definitely needs pieces SHE wants to play.
_________________________
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Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1652721 - 04/01/11 06:14 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Ah, the old middle school crisis. This is a very common age range for kids to abandon serious piano training. For the most part piano is a solo instrument, and this is an age range where great social development is occurring.

For some children, it's not a big deal. I never faced this problem. But for others, the growing sense of independence coupled with the isolating effects of piano practice conspire to create great friction in the household. I wish there were a magic pill.

One of my friends (a teacher) is really good with kids in that age range. For some kids, there is a lot of mileage in trying to find a simpatico teacher who will inspire more effort. I know that this teacher-friend manages to turn piano into a more social experience, and that helps keep middle school age kids engaged.

In the end, nothing may work. Some kids will have none of it after a while. But your "old school" teacher may be a part of the problem.
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#1652722 - 04/01/11 06:21 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I agree with Piano*Dad.

CM is a tough road to hoe at her level. I have been known to keep the CM syllabus material going surreptiously in the curriculum without specifically referring to it and without entering them in the testing. That way, they stay well-rounded without the pressure of the test/recital.

Repertoire is king at this stage and so is student involvement in the choice of it.

If you have not yet done so, sit down with the teacher and discuss these issues. If she is not willing to make some changes, then it's time for you to do so.
_________________________
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#1652723 - 04/01/11 06:25 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: ll]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2648
Originally Posted By: ll
Gyro, while you sometimes find a good way to include that blib into a newcomer's post, it doesn't even make sense this time.

--

Sounds like what she needs is a step back from the competitive stuff, and maybe to hover around the same level for a while. Maybe her teacher is pushing her too much.

And yes, she definitely needs pieces SHE wants to play.


I thought today was the ONLY day it makes sense--because it's APRIL FOOL'S DAY! I enjoyed the laugh.

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#1652736 - 04/01/11 07:04 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
pianoeagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 218
Loc: Texas
I agree with Piano*Dad. Middle school is often one of the tougher periods of a child's study, simply because children have so much schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Plus, around this age, they start spending more time with friends, and less time at home.

I teach two girls in 6th grade, and all of their friends quit piano in 3rd or 4th grade. The 'cool' activities for their age are gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading: other activities against which piano competes for their practice time (unfortunately). To keep them motivated, I integrate Latin, ragtime, pop, country, jazz, etc. throughout the year. I've also been able to integrate a social music festival each year into their curriculum, which keeps them performing before local crowds, but also allows them to practice the music of their choice.

I would definitely discuss the concerns with your daughter's teacher. Ask what the teacher's goals and objectives are for your daughter, then compare them to your own. The teacher should be willing to align her objectives with yours. If not, well...


Edited by pianoeagle (04/01/11 07:05 PM)
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#1652741 - 04/01/11 07:21 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: pianoeagle]
piano joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/11
Posts: 807
Loc: Florida
Hi, all, I'm new to the forums.

Gyro, you got me! I fell for it, hook, line and sinker!
I was thinking "this guy's a NUT!"

laugh
_________________________
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-the Beatles




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#1652769 - 04/01/11 08:06 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: Gyro]
Chopinmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 65
It may seem like an APRIL FOOL'S joke to many, it actually contains nuggets of truth. That probably explained why some times my kids' teacher would ask them to play a certain difficult passage on the fall-board, she is asking them to play the music in their heads first. Try it and you will know it is a lot harder to play on the fall-board than on the keys!

We were asked to buy a digital piano, we have an Yamaha P140 at home for them to practice silently on.
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#1652790 - 04/01/11 08:55 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: Chopinmaniac]
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
Originally Posted By: Chopinmaniac
It may seem like an APRIL FOOL'S joke to many, it actually contains nuggets of truth. That probably explained why some times my kids' teacher would ask them to play a certain difficult passage on the fall-board, she is asking them to play the music in their heads first. Try it and you will know it is a lot harder to play on the fall-board than on the keys!

We were asked to buy a digital piano, we have an Yamaha P140 at home for them to practice silently on.


You haven't been around long enough to see most of Gyro's posts. That's not his idea of an AF prank.

Not to mention, he's suggesting that one REPLACE the acoustic with the digital altogether. If that's all it took for my students to practice, I'd deal - but it's not.
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1652813 - 04/01/11 10:00 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2648
No, I was just kidding. It WOULD make sense as an April Fool's joke though. In Gyro's case, his posts always rotate out of the bounds of sound reasoning, hence the suitable name 'gyro'. smile

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#1652820 - 04/01/11 10:14 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
The problem may be with the piano you use, an acoustic.


Actually, I'm sure that some people do replace or supplement their acoustic piano with a digital piano as an inducement for middle school children to continue practicing.

".... play 30 minutes straight up, and I'll let you put the bossa nova beat on while you mess around."

".... give me an hour of real practice, and then you're free to start layering weird sounds onto that, that, thing you're trying to record."

Heck, I too thought about acquiring a digital "second piano" around that time as well. I never did, but I'm sure many people succumb. I suspect most of them ultimately decide that the bells and whistles don't actually contribute much to learning, but in some cases perhaps they help carry a rebellious middle schooler into a more productive high school career.
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#1652829 - 04/01/11 10:38 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
I was actually going to agree with Gyro on this one; perhaps buying your daughter a digital or higher end keyboard with all the bells and whistles would be a way to introduce some FUN into her musical education.

I just passed out 'Axel F' to two groups of middle school/jr highers. I showed them how to work the 'single finger chord' in the LH, along with a dance/techno accompaniment style. They ate it up and it was a nice change of pace after CM evaluations last week.

By the way, what CM level is she?
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#1652915 - 04/02/11 03:13 AM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: Chopinmaniac]
Tweedpipe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/08
Posts: 431
Originally Posted By: Chopinmaniac
It may seem like an APRIL FOOL'S joke to many, it actually contains nuggets of truth.......


That 'nugget' is also called fool's gold.......
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We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.
Yours sincerely,
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#1653227 - 04/02/11 04:24 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1205
Loc: Berkeley, California
Has your daughter been asked by you or her teacher what repertoire would interest her? I've often found that this age group requires a little of this and that. I have a student about the same age who suddenly sprung to musical life playing Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory selections, in the company of a required Menuet en Rondeau by Rameau. I had another student who agreed to play her Clementi sonatina in the company of Hedwig's Theme. All music, of any genre requires attention to phrasing, dynamics, form, etc. so a teacher must be a bit flexible and take a more creative approach when necessary. Just a few thoughts to pass along.
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#1653337 - 04/02/11 09:26 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
Lisa C Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/12/11
Posts: 41
Loc: Portland, Oregon
After taking lessons from the age of 7, I was SO DONE with piano in my middle school years. Or so I thought . . . turned out what (who) I was done with was Teacher #1, someone who taught me the mechanics through a steady diet of Hanon scales, classics and method books. I'm not knocking any of that, but there was something definitely missing for me. My parents finally tired of the daily battles and let me quit for a year. There was a feeling of emptiness though, and out of sheer luck I began after-school babysitting for a new neighbor who happened to be giving piano lessons. What I heard was so different and then at 13 I began studying with her -- and stayed with her until I graduated from high school.

What was so different? She made piano FUN. Oh, there were still scales and classics . . . but theory (new to me), learning to play musically and with expression, throwing in some jazz, rock and other more contemporary pieces -- and COMPOSITION. Part of my weekly assignment involved composition -- and that's what turned everything around. The ability to create and not just replicate is very powerful.

Hope that helps.


Edited by Lisa C (04/02/11 09:31 PM)
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#1653406 - 04/02/11 11:40 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: Lisa C]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1205
Loc: Berkeley, California
I like that dimension of composing, Lisa.. It gives kids that sense of having something uniquely created by them..Thanks for sharing.
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NYC HS of Performing Arts
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#1653512 - 04/03/11 04:03 AM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5512
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: LC_piano_player
She is talented; when she puts in the energy, she can play well (got CM honor recital last year

Sorry to burst your bubble, but CM Honors Recital doesn't mean very much. Almost everybody who signs up gets through, even the kids who play semi-horribly. And every branch sets its own criteria, so some branches take 4+, while others take 5 and 5+ only.

I'm not at all surprised by your daughter's problems. It's normal! I have a couple of middle-school students who are on the brinks of quitting piano, too. Sometimes a change of repertoire works; sometimes it doesn't. Actually, most of the time it doesn't. Kids who want to quit sooner or later will quit.
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#1653890 - 04/03/11 06:10 PM Re: Need advice about daughter's piano lessons [Re: LC_piano_player]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1205
Loc: Berkeley, California
I'm not a big fan of CM, but if students and teachers cooperatively work toward the guidelines, all well and good. I agree that there will always be drop out students, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality of teaching, repertoire, etc. In the teenage range, (not applied here) kids develop other interests and focus on social/peer connections, and getting ready for college. No matter what you do in the way of creative lesson planning, it may be to no avail. The other issue may be tangential to the lesson framework altogether, like rebellions against authority.. could be directed at the parent, using the music lessons as a convenient displacement. If parent is applying a lot of pressure in regard to practicing, etc. student might want to be spared further turmoil. Lord only knows how many varied situations can present.
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