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#1976602 - 10/21/12 03:45 AM A few teaching queries
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
I have a new job at a studio. I now have seven new students. Their ages range from 4-15. I feel like I've been thrown into the deep end, any help from teachers on this forum would be very much appreciated.

I've changed the names but not the sexes of these students.

John is seven years old and he has ADHD as well as ODD. His ADHD is severe and I'm not really sure about how I can help. I have a few ideas - to break the lesson up into bits where we work on repertoire, theory and then play a musical game centered on working on his aural skills.

In terms of repertoire, I spoke to a parent and she told me about her son with ADHD - she said that these kids can focus and concentrate for long periods of time as long as they are interested in what it is they are doing. She suggested looking into more familiar repertoire like theme songs (rather than nursery rhymes or things out of John Thompson). I thought about working on one familiar piece with him (I'll arrange music from a Disney Movie that he likes or maybe the Simpsons) and working on one un-familiar piece (but allowing him to pick it - after playing a few pieces). Then, we can look at theory - he is working on a workbook, I've considered having him apply his knowledge by writing tunes. I'll see if he is interested in this at all. Then, finally there are musical games at the place I work, but there are only two games - does anybody know of any good musical games?

I have a student who has just turned five. She can count, but doesn't play with pulse so we listened to each other's heartbeats, clapped, marched and it seemed to work to a certain degree. I don't know if it is any help because none of her parents watch and supervise the lesson. She gets distracted easily, but I would think it's quite normal for her age to be this way. I've considered breaking up the lesson into chunks again - she likes nursery rhymes, so perhaps to have her play one nursery rhyme and one unfamiliar piece. My friends say to not introduce reading just yet and to consider just working on her aural and general music skills. Does anybody teach young five year olds - what do you do?

Finally, I have a 14 year old who refuses to cut her nails. She doesn't have great technique and a big reason is the length of her nails ... I want to have a heart to heart with her next week, asking her what her goals are, what music she is interested in, what she wants out of piano lesson and why short nails are very important.

Let me know if you have any further suggestions. Thank you so much in advance.

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#1976790 - 10/21/12 04:43 PM Re: A few teaching queries [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Europe
Hey Nannerl

It sounds like you're on a good way.
You may find out that it might be too hard for the ADHD student to concentrate on so many different bits in one lesson - but you'll find out. Just try what you've planned, it sounds good. What I know from my experience is that these students always need instant approval, if they did something well.
About the nails: It usually works pretty well with my students, if I try to prove them (instead of just tell them) that their long nails are in the way by working on a typical passage. (By the way, around here, long nails are ( yippie ) quite out of fashion, they now have them short and painted in the brightest colours...
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

#1977281 - 10/22/12 08:55 PM Re: A few teaching queries [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
PApianoteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/12
Posts: 39
I recently bought a small dry erase board at the dollar store. I drew a grand staff on it with permanent marker. We make a game of me saying notes and the student writing them as fast as he or she can. Somewhat of a reverse of flash cards!

#1977288 - 10/22/12 09:16 PM Re: A few teaching queries [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I have only taught one 5 year old, and I almost always teach students who can already count to four, read the letters of the music alphabet, so I'm not much help, although I am eagerly looking out for responses!

I think both Music Moves for Piano (http://www.musicmovesforpiano.com/) and Irina Gorin's 'Tales of a Musical Journey' (http://www.gorinspianostudio.com/gorinsmethod.html) look really interesting for teaching the younger age group.
Private piano teacher since 2003
ASME (Australian Society for Music Education),
ANZCA (Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts),
KMEIA (Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia).

#1978682 - 10/25/12 10:17 PM Re: A few teaching queries [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Thanks for the replies. I saw the five year old today, talked to a few other teachers and a parent about ADHD and ODD in the week, and I also talked to the girl with long nails.

As far as the five year old went. I tried a few things, and they seem to be working. I wanted to go semi-Suzuki, I tend to think the problem with Suzuki is that we don't really use the method correctly. We have students learn things aurally, but by the time we introduce note reading, it becomes slower to learn things through note reading... Ideally, from what I have read, the Suzuki method will and should introduce note reading not later but sooner. She sang incy wincy spider to me. So I said why don't we work it out on the piano - aurally. That was too tricky, so I ended up trying to have her rote long the song following me, but that was also too tricky. I tried kodaly counting syllables - Ta, Ta-te, ta-aa and some solfege (I only taught do, re and mi). We clapped, said rhythms, read some rhythms and that worked. I saw her grandmother on the way out and insisted that she sit in the lesson and supervise her grand daughter's practice.

As far as the ADHD kid went, I was told that it will take time for him to trust me. I should be nice to him, bribe him, let him get way with stuff, BUT I should also be mean. I should learn what his concentration span is and not not mess with it, but extend it slowly and gradually. For now, he is working on one piece of music with me... and I'm trying to find out which movies he likes so that he can play music from those movies.

The girl with long nails - I demonstrated to her why long nails inhibit playing. I think my style of teaching is consultant/buddy to older people (I'm not a parent or superior... I'm sort of more like a peer). I told her that there are certain industries where you have to have short nails (e.g. chefs don't have long nails) and I also asked her what she wanted out of lessons. She could hear how long nails inhibit playing but I said I didn't want to force her, it's her choice - either way I'll teach her to the best of my ability.

#1978847 - 10/26/12 10:47 AM Re: A few teaching queries [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
samasap Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 622
Loc: UK
I teach one lad with Aspergers and another lad with Austism and ADHD. My method of teaching with these guys is to ensure they are happy with the songs they are learning and I don't overload their lesson with too many different sections as they will find this too challenging having to concentrate on too many different things.

I find they have a terrific memory and will learn better playing by ear so I tend to work out suitable arrangements of songs we've discussed and then show them it by ear in sections. They have the sheet music to hand as well and once they have learnt the song I spend half a lesson getting them to understand the pattern of the sheet music.
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