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#1973874 - 10/16/12 12:29 AM Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned?
Cardinal201 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Hello again! I recently posted about my child's piano teacher suggesting transferring to another teacher. I'll definitely be following everyone's advice and getting more clarification from her once she returns from her current vacation. In the meantime, I have another question...

My kiddo had 4 lessons before what will total a 3 week break due to the fall recital and the teacher's time off. During this break, is it alright for him to go ahead in his books, or should he only play what the teacher had previously assigned? Thus far, I've been allowing him to move forward as long as he continues to play the older material too, which he is more than happy to do. This has resulted in him now playing piano for what seems to be fairly extensive periods of time for a 5 year old beginner, as well as a rapidly expanding repertoire that he may or may not be playing completely properly. I know enough to ascertain that my kiddo is playing the notes and rhythm of the new pieces correctly, but I could very well be missing some finer points. I'm starting to wonder if the teacher may not appreciate all this self-teaching, and/or that it is more harmful than helpful. What do you all think? Should I stop letting my kid go ahead until after the next lesson?

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#1973878 - 10/16/12 12:37 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
With younger children, I prefer the parent to be more "hands off." The foundation is SO important and while I want the parent to be encouraging, I'd rather they not put themselves in the teacher role.

Personally, if I had been the teacher, I would not have started your child knowing such a significant break was coming up. I would have waited until after the break or continued to teach the child through the break. A 3-week break after only 4 lessons is not ideal. That being the case, though, it would be better for the child to simply have some fun exploring the piano and its various sounds by playing pieces of their own creation or trying to pick out familiar tunes by ear.
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#1973958 - 10/16/12 07:26 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Minniemay]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4981
Loc: boston north
Originally Posted By: Minniemay

Personally, if I had been the teacher, I would not have started your child knowing such a significant break was coming up. I would have waited until after the break or continued to teach the child through the break. A 3-week break after only 4 lessons is not ideal. That being the case, though, it would be better for the child to simply have some fun exploring the piano and its various sounds by playing pieces of their own creation or trying to pick out familiar tunes by ear.


I totally agree.
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"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1974015 - 10/16/12 10:58 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: lilylady]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
+1 more
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#1974314 - 10/16/12 10:55 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
pianogirl87 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 107
Loc: New Jersey
I agree with MinnieMay's response.
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#1974451 - 10/17/12 08:53 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Minniemay]
Mozart'sGal Offline
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Registered: 05/17/12
Posts: 82
100% with Minniemay
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#1974464 - 10/17/12 09:22 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1203
Loc: London UK
Ideally there would be no break. But when a 5-year-old is enthusiastic, restriction would be ridiculous! Maybe a few pieces will get learnt wrong. No biggie.

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#1974762 - 10/17/12 06:03 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Ideally there would be no break. But when a 5-year-old is enthusiastic, restriction would be ridiculous! Maybe a few pieces will get learnt wrong. No biggie.

This!
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Member:
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#1974774 - 10/17/12 06:18 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
It's not the pieces, it's the playing habits. I was exactly in that situation with the first instrument that I studied under a teacher. He was gone in month 3 and most of month 4. Those physical things that I learned on my own at the time when my basic technique was being formed remained weak areas for years. I was spot tested on the pieces, passed them, and graduated to grade 1. It would have been better to not "advance" on my own, but rather play things using what I had learned. It would have been best of all to wait for lessons to start until I could be offered uninterrupted lessons for at least 10 months. I'm not one to be able to hold back once I start.

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#1974804 - 10/17/12 07:01 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Ideally there would be no break. But when a 5-year-old is enthusiastic, restriction would be ridiculous! Maybe a few pieces will get learnt wrong. No biggie.


Agreed. As a parent of kids who always want to go ahead with their own choices, I'd say go ahead. It's great that a kid can have so much fun with piano. If a few things aren't quite right, I'm sure the teacher will correct him when lessons resume. Nothing is incorrigible at this age.

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#1974851 - 10/17/12 08:40 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
But you're not a teacher. You don't have to go back and try to undo things that have been done incorrectly. First impressions matter a great deal. If they child was older and had more background, it may not be an issue, but this is a pure beginner.
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#1974854 - 10/17/12 08:47 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1203
Loc: London UK
Agreed, it's a bad situation. But how do you put a keen 5-year-old on hold?

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#1974858 - 10/17/12 08:59 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Agreed, it's a bad situation. But how do you put a keen 5-year-old on hold?

You don't put the 5 year old in that situation in the first place. I'd venture to say that you don't do that to a keen student of any age. But IF you are a teacher who has started a child for 3 or 4 weeks, and then you will be absent for the same length of time, you don't leave the parent guessing. You give guidance. What is it that this child can be doing for the next three weeks in the teacher's absence? Give it some thought, and then advise the family before becoming unavailable for that length of time.


Edited by keystring (10/17/12 09:47 PM)
Edit Reason: changed "for" to 4 (gah!)

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#1974877 - 10/17/12 09:42 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: keystring]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Agreed, it's a bad situation. But how do you put a keen 5-year-old on hold?

You don't put the 5 year old in that situation in the first place. I'd venture to say that you don't do that to a keen student of any age. But IF you are a teacher who has started a child for 3 or for weeks, and then you will be absent for the same length of time, you don't leave the parent guessing. You give guidance. What is it that this child can be doing for the next three weeks in the teacher's absence? Give it some thought, and then advise the family before becoming unavailable for that length of time.


Amen!
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#1974888 - 10/17/12 09:59 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
What keystring said makes a lot of sense. If the OP and the teacher have agreed on methods/manners of communication, he/she might want to email/call the teacher and ask for advice.

Minniemay, it is indeed true that each student is different and each stage of learning is different, and without knowing the details all suggestions are simply based on our own experiences. No, I'm not a piano teacher (although I am a teacher), but my experience watching my kids and their teachers tells me that going ahead with their own favorite music is an important part of music study. At times, the teachers may need to undo some mistakes and it takes time, compared to starting from a blank slate. But in our case, at least, I think the benefit outweighs the inconvenience by a huge margin. So I simply want to put forth a different perspective for the OP.

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#1975015 - 10/18/12 04:09 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Agreed, it's a bad situation. But how do you put a keen 5-year-old on hold?


Give them a tambourine.

Edit: and a triangle. I still have some in stock in case anyone's interested! wink


Edited by ten left thumbs (10/18/12 04:11 AM)
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#1975023 - 10/18/12 05:12 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: keystring]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1203
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: keystring
IF you are a teacher who has started a child for 3 or 4 weeks, and then you will be absent for the same length of time, you don't leave the parent guessing. You give guidance.

And, very likely, the teacher did. We rarely hear the WHOLE story in these threads :-)

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#1975099 - 10/18/12 09:52 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted By: keystring
IF you are a teacher who has started a child for 3 or 4 weeks, and then you will be absent for the same length of time, you don't leave the parent guessing. You give guidance.

And, very likely, the teacher did. We rarely hear the WHOLE story in these threads :-)


Apparently not, or the parent would not have posted the query.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1976052 - 10/20/12 02:26 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Cardinal201 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Thank you all for your replies! Following the general consensus on this thread, I didn't let my kiddo play ahead this week, and instead encouraged him to polish what he's learned thus far as well as just noodle around on the piano for fun. We replaced our digital with a new acoustic a few days ago, so luckily even old repertoire seems exciting again. Hopefully, no real damage has been done, since the kid was only playing ahead in basic beginner books (Teaching Little Fingers to Play and Piano Adventures Pre-Time and Level 1 series). In any case, next time I will be sure to ask the teacher for guidance if she doesn't bring it up beforehand!

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#1976143 - 10/20/12 09:22 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You should always have an extended plan from the teacher if there is to be a significant break.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1976158 - 10/20/12 09:50 AM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Minniemay]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
You should always have an extended plan from the teacher if there is to be a significant break.

Which is the teacher's responsibility. Unfortunately since people aren't perfect, we sometimes have to ask for things - diplomatically - which we shouldn't have to ask for.

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#1976818 - 10/21/12 05:43 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Cardinal201 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Update: The kiddo just had his post-hiatus lesson, and luckily it doesn't appear that any major damage was done by playing ahead. The teacher made minor corrections in phrasing and arm position for a couple of the pieces, but seemed very pleased overall. Her only disappointment (that she verbalized, anyway) was that there wasn't enough time during the lesson for the kid to play for her all the new pieces learned. That, and he used up all her stickers. Regardless, as already stated, in the future I will be sure to ask the teacher for a formal plan if there will be an extended break between lessons. Thank you all again!

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#1976827 - 10/21/12 05:55 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1203
Loc: London UK
Jolly good! All that agonising over nothing then! :-)

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#1976848 - 10/21/12 07:10 PM Re: Ok to go ahead or only play what teacher has assigned? [Re: Cardinal201]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
Her only disappointment ...was that there wasn't enough time during the lesson for the kid to play for her all the new pieces learned. That, and he used up all her stickers.


+1
_________________________
Private piano teacher since 2003
Member:
ASME (Australian Society for Music Education),
ANZCA (Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts),
KMEIA (Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia).

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