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#1967553 - 10/01/12 10:07 PM Ideas for one on one in-class activities?
toejamfutbol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: MI
Long story short...I have a student who, after somewhat of an ordeal, I have decided needs to be engaged in educational activities during her entire lesson time, rather than work on pieces for her to practice at home. Don't ask. The situation is already giving me a headache.

Anyway, my question is...I need all the ideas I can get for keeping a 14 year old engaged during a 30 minute lesson exclusively with in-class activities and little to no actual piano playing or repertoire work. Basically I am giving her "music lessons" rather than "piano lessons."

So far I have...
- Flash cards (key signatures, symbols, etc.)
- Ear training (I play rhythms and melodies and she notates them...any other ear training ideas?)
- Rhythm notation reading and playing
- Theory workbook exercises

Anything else? I usually do these things to fill in some leftover time at the end of lessons but now I have to fill the whole lesson with them.
_________________________
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau

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#1967683 - 10/02/12 08:54 AM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Ear training: you play intervals (harmonic and melodic) and she identifies them. You play I, IV, V7 chords, and she identifies them. Play "Name that Tune" - 2 notes, 3 notes, 4 notes .... until she gets it. Play something "wrong" and have her identify the mistake.

Sightreading: hand her a song (treble only, first line) that she should know - without the title or words - and see if she can identify it without hearing any of the notes played. (eg. Old MacDonald, Twinkle, Mary had a little lamb, Jingle Bells, other Christmas songs, Frere Jacques, etc.)

You can also ask her to try to pick out these simple tunes by ear on the keyboard.

Rhythm - use rhythm instruments and practice counting aloud while playing.

Susan Paradis has some great game ideas - like note Bingo. I also use her "Grand Staff for Dimes" for teaching chord inversions, etc. Her rhythm and note matching "memory games" might work for you, too.
http://www.susanparadis.com/catalog.php?...&subtype2=x
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1967895 - 10/02/12 06:41 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2408
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Explore different ways of making musical sound?

Water in glasses
Blowing across bottles
Plucking tight strings
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1967902 - 10/02/12 06:58 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Learn about composers - biographies as well as what music they wrote. Learn about different periods of music, and what makes them different from one another. Learn about different instruments and how they make their sounds.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1968549 - 10/04/12 04:08 AM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Does she sing? Does she mind singing? I've found that kids who sing (or at least hum) have a better understanding of musical phrasing.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1968942 - 10/05/12 01:16 AM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 305
Loc: CA
I am not a music teacher, so I look at the situation a bit differently -- I am not trying to be flippant. Why subject a 14-year old to this if she is not interested? I am sure that there are other activities that she may both enjoy and benefit from? Seems to be a waste of time for somebody who is already coping with the demands of high school.

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#1969843 - 10/07/12 01:34 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: rlinkt]
toejamfutbol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: MI
Originally Posted By: rlinkt
I am not a music teacher, so I look at the situation a bit differently -- I am not trying to be flippant. Why subject a 14-year old to this if she is not interested? I am sure that there are other activities that she may both enjoy and benefit from? Seems to be a waste of time for somebody who is already coping with the demands of high school.


That seems perfectly sensible doesn't it? Unfortunately I tried to explain this to her mom and she doesn't feel the same way. It's a complicated situation, that's why I didn't bother getting into it.
_________________________
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau

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#1969944 - 10/07/12 05:37 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1313
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
We love complicated situations. Let's hear it...

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#1970286 - 10/08/12 11:50 AM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: Peter K. Mose]
toejamfutbol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: MI
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
We love complicated situations. Let's hear it...


Well alright, you asked for it!

Let's call my student Anne. So Anne started lessons with me about a year ago. She is really quiet and sort of has a pouty attitude. Some days she is easier to work with than others. Most of the time I just feel like she is just waiting for the thirty minutes to be over and doesn't take anything I say very seriously. She never seems to be interested whatsoever in anything that we work on or talk about. I've tried asking her to pick out some songs that she likes and even when we work on those, she doesn't seem like she cares at all, nor does she practice at all.

So a couple of weeks ago I had a frank conversation with her and I asked her if she was taking lessons because she wanted to or because her mom was making her. She was honest and said her mom was making her. She also admitted that she doesn't practice at all between lessons (something I caught on to already quite some time ago).

Anne also told me that during the week, she is away from home from the time she leaves in the morning for school, until 10 pm. She is involved in dance and other activities. Even if she DID want to practice, she wouldn't be able to!

Anyway, we decided that I would talk to her mom and decide where to go from here. Anne clearly has no time to practice (as dance obviously takes higher priority), and she also clearly has no interest whatsoever in taking these lessons anyway.

Her mom is really busy (there are three other girls in the family involved in just as many activities), so I decided the best way to communicate with her would be email. I sent her a thorough, well-thought out email explaining the situation. I suggested that if she was insistent on Anne continuing lessons, that perhaps instead we could focus on in-class activities, rather than basing the lesson on Anne's non-existing practice throughout the week.

I never received a reply to my email. Instead, the mother called the studio where I teach (rather than my cellphone. I am a contractor and always communicate with my students directly, not through the studio) and left a message with the receptionist telling me that whatever I wanted to do was fine. Later that evening my student arrived for her lesson, seemed to have no communication with her mother to report, and we spent most of the lesson doing ear-training exercises.

About halfway through the lesson, her mom comes in and has a sarcastic smile on her face. She said, "I showed your email to my husband and he laughed." I asked her why. "Because Anne has time to practice on the weekends." This was rude and offensive to me, because I took time out of my day to write out that email, and she couldn't even reply to it, and she obviously didn't even read it thoroughly because I made it clear that practicing on Saturday and Sunday was NOT sufficient (especially since Anne's lesson is on a Monday...making five days between the lesson and her first day of practice). But now her mom was seemingly making a joke out of my email. I defended myself without being snarky (which was hard) and stood my ground on the situation. I made it very clear that what we would be doing was in-class activities and little to no actual piano playing. She was fine with this.

I was really hoping to just be rid of the student because my lesson with her is such an energy drain. I think I'll see how it goes for a while. If it gets worse I may have to just drop her. I don't know.

So that's why I needed ideas for exercises to do during the lesson! At this point I wouldn't even feel bad just spending the whole lesson chatting with Anne. But she isn't outgoing or chatty at all so I can't even do that!
_________________________
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau

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#1970332 - 10/08/12 02:06 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
One year of lessons and no practice and no interest.

I'd do my best to spark her interest and introduce materials with a CD accompaniment to play along with. (Sounds like you've already done that.) And I'd work on pieces in lessons.

If you give an additional trial period, I'd limit it to a month. If the kid is still pouting and not practicing, I would tell the parent that it is not working out and that you will no longer be able to teach her daughter.

If you have a website, it could be useful to add a page of information about practice recommendations for meaning progress in piano playing. And ask the parent to read it.
_________________________
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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#1970348 - 10/08/12 02:47 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 470
Horrific for you and the student. frown It sounds like the mom is just "resume building". If she is very much into dance, I don't know why the mom won't put her in voice instead of piano. Then she would always have her "instrument" with her and could use it with auditions.

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#1970487 - 10/08/12 08:27 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
toejamfutbol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: MI
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
One year of lessons and no practice and no interest.

I'd do my best to spark her interest and introduce materials with a CD accompaniment to play along with. (Sounds like you've already done that.) And I'd work on pieces in lessons.

If you give an additional trial period, I'd limit it to a month. If the kid is still pouting and not practicing, I would tell the parent that it is not working out and that you will no longer be able to teach her daughter.

If you have a website, it could be useful to add a page of information about practice recommendations for meaning progress in piano playing. And ask the parent to read it.



Unfortunately I have tried all of these things already. It doesn't matter if it's songs out of her method book or a Christina Perri song she claims to like. She isn't interested and she doesn't practice. It is simply not her thing at this point in her life.

And like I said, I'm not giving traditional piano lessons to a student who has told me that the only days she is able to practice is on Saturday and Sunday. I'm sorry but I consider that pointless, and it's probably contributing to her disinterest. Maybe if she had more time to practice during the week she would feel more motivated because she would be making more progress and investing more of herself in the instrument. But that is not going to happen because dance consumes her schedule and is more important to her.

(And by the way, I DO have a comprehensive parent/student guide on my website that clearly spells out what taking piano lessons are all about, how to practice, and how to enjoy and make the most of the experience. I know her mom has read it already at some point. Or at least claimed to.)

I write up student progress reports for the parents at the end of every session. I think I'm going to try to communicate with her mom again at the end of this session if things don't start looking up. I have a wait list and feel like her lesson spot is being wasted. I'm sure there are other kids waiting who would appreciate the experience a lot more than Anne.
_________________________
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau

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#1970505 - 10/08/12 09:14 PM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
It sounds like piano lessons have already ended. You're finding it pointless to continue. IMO there is no need to try "music lessons" in place of piano lessons. It's time to let this kid off the hook of lessons with you. You've got a waiting list and someone else will make better use of the lessons.

What is keeping you from letting her go?


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (10/08/12 09:15 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
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

Top
#1970689 - 10/09/12 08:39 AM Re: Ideas for one on one in-class activities? [Re: toejamfutbol]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2408
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
What an unfortunate situation!

If you are still looking for suggestions, since she is involved in dance, you could do some musical examination of dance forms.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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