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#2042970 - 03/04/13 05:53 PM Teaching a 4 year-old
Mooseknuckle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/07/09
Posts: 14
Hi,

I'm teaching my son to play piano. I'm not a professional teacher, and if that bothers you, please stop reading, as I don't want this to turn into a debate about whether or not I should be teaching my child to play piano.

My son is currently working through the Faber Piano adventures Primer book, and we're about half way through (Russian Folk Song).

There are a few things that I've noticed (patterns), and I am hoping for some good advice.

1) I've noticed the he prefers to play with flat fingers, and his palms below the keys. He sits high enough in a chair where he can comfortably keep his hands above the keys with rounded fingers, but he keeps playing with flat fingers on the edge of the keys. When I correct him on this, he will play with "proper" hand position for a few seconds, then regress back to flatness.

How much effort should I spend correcting this? Should I just halt everything until he gets the finger position right? Or should I just keep casually correcting him every now and then hoping it fixes itself? How important is this at such an early stage?

2) There's a lot of heavy arm movement. With each key he strikes, the elbow and arm are visibly moving quite a distance. While this helps with very succinct notes, it's visually very noisy. Should I be taking measures to have him play with a quieter wrist/arm? I find that when I do, he starts slurring the notes, and they begin to overlap each other sloppily. How important is this?

3) My son loves looking at his hands when he plays, but when he does, he makes musical mistakes. I find that he plays the best when:

a) I'm pointing at the notes with a pencil while he plays
b) I make him say the note names aloud when he plays

Ideally, I'd like him to be able to play without either of these crutches, but when I do, he starts watching his hands, and not the music, and makes note errors.

I'm currently giving him 45-minute lessons six days a week, and he's been going for three months now, and like I said, we're about 1/2 way through the first Piano Adventures series (doing the lesson, performance, popular repertoire, and gold star performance books). Is this progress too fast? Too slow? My current methodology is to not move on in a particular song until he can play it 3 times in a row by himself metrically even, and without any mistakes (including missed dynamics).

Any advice in general for someone in my situation? Please don't tell me to hire a professional teacher as that is financially not an option right now, and I'd rather him have lessons from me than no lessons at all. Thanks for any input!

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#2042986 - 03/04/13 06:24 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
sonataplayer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 64
Loc: New Hampshire
Hi Mooseknuckle,

45 minute lessons six days a week seems like a lot for a 4-year old to handle. Is he enjoying his lessons?

Also, insisting on perfection with notes, rhythm and dynamics before progressing on to new music seems like a somewhat unrealistic expectation for a 4-year old unless he is unusually gifted.

What is the rush? I believe if you waited until he was six or seven he'd progress much faster and perhaps enjoy his lessons more.

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#2043006 - 03/04/13 07:26 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
1) I've noticed the he prefers to play with flat fingers, and his palms below the keys. He sits high enough in a chair where he can comfortably keep his hands above the keys with rounded fingers, but he keeps playing with flat fingers on the edge of the keys. When I correct him on this, he will play with "proper" hand position for a few seconds, then regress back to flatness.

From a developmental standard, he might not have the strength/muscle tone/coordination. He is very young. Without time off (one day is not enough), muscles don'e get the rest they need.

Vision tracking is also developmental. His eye strength to focus on music notes might not be able to track the notes for extended periods, his eyes get fatigued. You might want him to have an eye appointment after piano lessons with an pediatric opthamologist to test his tracking. If he is fatigued regularly he will need glasses to relieve the strain. It will cause headaches for him unchecked. You are tracking for him by using the pencil and when he memorizes the notes and says them aloud, he is not dependent on reading them.

The skills you are requiring are not developmentally appropriate for a 4 year old.


Edited by MaggieGirl (03/04/13 07:27 PM)

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#2043087 - 03/04/13 10:43 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13817
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I agree with much of what's been said so far. It appears that Mooseknuckle's concerns are on target and that the lesson activities she describes are appropriate.

I do believe that after that many lessons for that many months, the student should be farther along in Primer, or that the Primer material has been learned to a very high degree of mastery. It seems that readiness may be a factor. Piano Adventures Primer was designed for the 6-7 year old in mind. A 4-year old's cognitive and motor development are unlikely to be up to the task of gaining a true understanding and mastery of the concepts presented in PA Primer. This is why the Fabers created the "My First Piano Adventures" series. That series targets the natural abilities and interests of the 4-6 year old student in a more appropriate and more engaging way. I would encourage Mooseknuckle to give that series a try and return to PA Primer in a year or two. (Or explore another series aimed at younger beginners - something like Music Moves for Piano.)

http://www.musicmovesforpiano.com
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2043088 - 03/04/13 10:43 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12200
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with what's been said. Also, the Faber Piano Adventures is for children ages 7 or 8 I believe. If this were my student I would be doing My First Piano Adventures, which has a lot more focus on big musical concepts (high/low, loud/soft, fast/slow), singing, games, and very short songs.

I assume the 6 (45) minute lessons are really just practice sessions. If he enjoys it and can maintain his focus for that long, got for it. Otherwise, break it up by doing musical games, listening to music, singing along to music, improvising at the piano, etc. This part of his development has a lot to do with imagination and creativity. Why not treat this more as exploratory rather than product driven (learning the next song, finishing the book)?

To address your concerns about his playing, without actually seeing what he's doing it's hard to say definitively. So what I have to say next is based on the very limited information you've provided:

1) Flat finger playing is fine, keep reminding him, but don't make a big deal out of it
2) I assume you mean that his arms and wrist are bouncing and are pliable. Are his shoulders high? If they are relaxed, the bounciness if actually a good thing. However, I'm not sure if you mean with the elbow movement vertically or horizontally. Not know what this is could be a concern, but again, not a big deal. He's little and most likely trying his best to play without that slurring. By over doing the bounciness of the wrist this can help, especially since his fingers do not have much strength at this time.
3)Pointing while he plays is fine. Him memorizing and looking at his hands is also fine. The music is very simple and easy to memorize.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2043101 - 03/04/13 11:08 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Kreisler]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
My 4-5 year old students enjoy the Faber series "My First Piano Adventures", books A, B, and C. They are very age-appropriate in my opinion and I agree with Kreisler that you could try using those first, then return to the purple primer book. Perhaps you wouldn't have to use all 3 early beginner books (the A, B, and C) before returning to the purple primer.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#2043205 - 03/05/13 05:06 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
OK, I'm not allowed to say find a professional teacher. So I won't. But many piano teachers would be wrong for your son at age four anyway.

I'm probably not allowed to suggest that your son may be simply too young to be playing the piano, at least according to your regimen. So I won't.

What I will say is that I wish this lad were singing and dancing, with his parents, and his grandparents, and his cousins, and his aunts and uncles, and with other kids his age, instead of learning the piano. Give him a drum and a tonette first, and let him accompany your piano playing, not his.

Then find a music school that has a program such as MusikGarten, or KinderMusik, or Music Together, or Music for Young Children, or Orff, or Dalcroze, or one of the myriad nurturing music programs for children. You *can* afford these.

A couple years from now, with your son grounded in music, you can revisit the piano idea.

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#2043237 - 03/05/13 08:18 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
45 minute lessons, six days a week? REALLY? For a four year old?

You don't want us to debate whether or not you should be teaching your child, but you ask us "how to teach" questions which pretty much answers your question.
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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#2043279 - 03/05/13 09:47 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
montunoman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/11
Posts: 82
Hi MK, I've started teaching my daughter piano around age 4 also. She's 9 now is doing well... When I started teaching her, she had been in a early childhood music class since she was a baby for and she had just started Suzuki violin. I felt like we could not afford a piano teacher so I thought I'd try to teach her. I used many ideas/concepts that I observed at Suzuki and the early childhood music program. I tried my best to make our piano sessions FUN with an emhasis on AURAL skills rather than note reading and technique. I got into some books/note reading when she was around 5-6. I made a music staff with tape on the floor and she would step on certain notes. We'd do lots of fun ear training with that too. Sometime around kindergarten she told me she wanted to take lessons with a "real piano teacher" I asked what she ment by a "real paino teacher teacher" and she told me that she wanted an old lady teacher that gives lessons to other kids in her house. So I found a "real piano" and the lessons were kind of boaring for her after all the fun we had at home with our piano "lessons." So I continued teaching her using our games, ear training and some of the basic books from Faber, and Bastain. When she was 7 I felt like she ready for things that I couldn't give her (like recitals, competitions...) She now been with a very experianced traditional "old lady teacher" for 2 years now and she's doing very well. Looking back, I'm glad I started her off on piano and I honestly think she would have lost interest if I made her sit a at the piano for 45 minutes practice sessions with a book in front in front of her. But of course kids are different... Does your son seem to enjoy the time your spending with him?










Edited by montunoman (03/05/13 09:57 AM)

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#2043280 - 03/05/13 09:50 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
catpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/12
Posts: 55
Originally Posted By: Mooseknuckle
I'm currently giving him 45-minute lessons six days a week


This is completely ridiculous.

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#2043281 - 03/05/13 09:50 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
montunoman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/11
Posts: 82
I guess everyone here has heard that Van Cliburn mother taught him as a small boy up until he went to Juliard. I wonder how she taught him when he was small?


Edited by montunoman (03/05/13 10:00 AM)

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#2043288 - 03/05/13 10:02 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: montunoman]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: montunoman
I guess everyone here has heard that Van Cliburn mother taught him as a small boy up until he went to Juliard (sic). I wonder she how she taught him when he was small?

As I recall, his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan, studied with Arthur Friedheim, who was a pupil of Franz Liszt, was a very advanced and accomplished pianist in her own right. And she was also a piano teacher!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2043289 - 03/05/13 10:04 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
What an intro!!

“I'm teaching my son to play piano. I'm not a professional teacher, and if that bothers you, please stop reading, as I don't want this to turn into a debate about whether or not I should be teaching my child to play piano.”
(Sounds like the dictatorial propoganda of the Nazis)

It is like a grim hangover from the Spanish Inquisition to torture a 4 year old at the piano for 45 minutes, 6 days a week ... and what is worse,
to discover that the persecutor is a rank amateur.

As a Piano Teacher of longstanding I’m totally with my colleague sonataplayer when he suggests ...

“What is the rush?
I believe if you waited until he was six or seven
he'd progress much faster and perhaps enjoy his lessons more.”


If only the Internet gave the power to rap Mooseknuckle
sharply over the knuckles ... I’d do it with zest.

A boy of 4 should be kicking a football ... or better still having his close family reading him magic stories at bedtime ... I was lucky to have a father who read us Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn ... while sitting round a winter fire.

Boy's of 4 might not be able to read and write ...
but crickey, they can dream.









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#2043291 - 03/05/13 10:21 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: John v.d.Brook]
montunoman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/11
Posts: 82
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: montunoman
I guess everyone here has heard that Van Cliburn mother taught him as a small boy up until he went to Juliard (sic). I wonder she how she taught him when he was small?

As I recall, his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan, studied with Arthur Friedheim, who was a pupil of Franz Liszt, was a very advanced and accomplished pianist in her own right. And she was also a piano teacher!


Yes, I realize that. I'm pretty sure she started him off around 3 years old. I'd just be interested to know what she did with him at such a young age. 45 minute sessions with a book? Probably not...


Edited by montunoman (03/05/13 10:28 AM)

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#2043296 - 03/05/13 10:30 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: montunoman]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12200
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: montunoman
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: montunoman
I guess everyone here has heard that Van Cliburn mother taught him as a small boy up until he went to Juliard (sic). I wonder she how she taught him when he was small?

As I recall, his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan, studied with Arthur Friedheim, who was a pupil of Franz Liszt, was a very advanced and accomplished pianist in her own right. And she was also a piano teacher!


Yes, I realize that. I'm pretty sure she started him off around 3 years old. I'd just be interested to know what she did with him at such a young age. 45 minute sessions with a book? Probably not...


Yes, and I'm guessing we are not comparing apples to apples here. The OP obviously isn't a piano teacher or they wouldn't be asking these questions. We don't know of their abilities at playing piano, but I think from what they've posted it's fair to assume they know how to play some piano.

I think the key for MK here is to concentrate more on music-making and creativity with music games, singing, dancing, etc. rather than a strict regimin at the piano at this stage in the child's development.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2043297 - 03/05/13 10:30 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The story never ends ... all those cloth-eared parents
who believe they have sired a Mozart.

Give us a break ... the van Cliburns are one in a million ... or perhaps a zillion.

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#2043298 - 03/05/13 10:32 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: btb]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12200
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: btb
The story never ends ... all those cloth-eared parents
who believe they have sired a Mozart.

Give us a break ... the van Cliburns are one in a million ... or perhaps a zillion.


Also very true, btb. The vast majority of children who learn piano are not talented enough to have a career, and therefore there is no need to rush things. However, even if this child *is* the next Van Cliburn a strict approach like this might squelch his creativity. So it's important I think to know if this child is enjoying his lessons.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2043311 - 03/05/13 10:49 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13817
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Van Cliburn's early training was quite strict. And came from his mother.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2043322 - 03/05/13 11:21 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Kreisler]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Van Cliburn's early training was quite strict. And came from his mother.


Poor fellow. Think of the baggage in later life. He could have started with folk dancing and Kodaly singing.

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#2043323 - 03/05/13 11:29 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Peter K. Mose]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Van Cliburn's early training was quite strict. And came from his mother.


Poor fellow. Think of the baggage in later life. He could have started with folk dancing and Kodaly singing.

Peter, VC got some serious baggage! Met him at Interlochen back in '63 at an after concert party. He seemed to have "issues" even then.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2043324 - 03/05/13 11:30 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Peter K. Mose]
montunoman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/11
Posts: 82
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Van Cliburn's early training was quite strict. And came from his mother.


Poor fellow. Think of the baggage in later life. He could have started with folk dancing and Kodaly singing.


Actually I heard in an interview that his mother had him sing everything that he was learning on the piano. I didn't mean to hijack this thread with the Van Cliburn comment...

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#2043327 - 03/05/13 11:33 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Morodiene]
montunoman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/11
Posts: 82
[quote=Morodiene

I think the key for MK here is to concentrate more on music-making and creativity with music games, singing, dancing, etc. rather than a strict regimin at the piano at this stage in the child's development. [/quote]

Yes.. This is what I was trying to say.

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#2043340 - 03/05/13 12:04 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: montunoman]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: montunoman
I didn't mean to hijack this thread with the Van Cliburn comment...

Actually, VC is very important to this discussion. Every 2 to 3 months, a parent comes into the forum telling us "I'm going to teach my child piano. Tell me how to do it. And, oh, BTW, don't tell me not to." Even good teachers, excellent musicians, such as Mrs. Cliburn, are not necessarily the best teacher for their own child. That's not to say you cannot be successful, as obviously, history is replete with success stories of home schooling (Lincoln comes to mind) successes. Obviously, Mrs. Cliburn brought Van to a level of pianism few others achieve, but he still needed years at Juilliard to become a top artist. It's entirely possible that many other teachers where he grew up, could have achieved a similar level of excellence, and perhaps with his mother supervising his home practice, having an outside teacher could have been even more effective and also not imparted some of the baggage he carried through life.

I'm fully supportive of home schoolers. In fact, many of my best students have come from that environment. One major difference though is that you're teaching general knowledge and skills and in the other, you're teaching highly specific, detailed skill and knowledge. A second difference is that in teaching an instrument, it takes more than book learning - not only actual skill is important, but it takes time to learn effecting teaching techniques. Some of us learn "how to teach" faster than others, but most of us, if we're being honest and candid, would admit that our first 10 years of teaching probably weren't our finest!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2043342 - 03/05/13 12:07 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Mooseknuckle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/07/09
Posts: 14
Thanks for all of the comments folks!

I don't have any delusions that I'm raising a Mozart here.
My child doesn't dread lessons; he looks forward to the time we spend together each evening in front of the piano.
He has friends, he takes dance lessons (enjoys those too), is on a tee-ball team, and I take him swimming every weekend, and we do nature hikes in the park behind our house.

Basically, we have a pretty normal father/son relationship, and he often goes up and plays the piano outside of lessons, and is always quick to show off his playing to other folks at church, or the grand-parents house. Hope we can stop the talk about this now.

Thanks for suggesting the other set of Faber books, I wish I had gone into those from the start. I feel like I'm already pretty invested in the Primer set, and I'm relatively happy with the results I'm getting here. I'm also elated to hear that the flat-finger thing isn't a huge worry. I'm a bit dubious about the claims that his fingers aren't getting enough rest, or that his eyes are being unduly strained. He has an optometrist, and his vision is fine, and the notes in the Primer are pretty big.

I realize that that horizontal note tracking probably just takes practice, so I wont worry too much about that either. I find that if I cover his hands with a book while he's playing, he does much better at reading the notes and not making mistakes. I think it's just a matter of getting him used to reading with his eyes and translating that to the fingers. I just don't want him to develop a consistent habit of relying on (faulty) memory to play the melodies.

Someone also commented that our daily lessons are probably more like "practice sessions." That's correct. I usually spend the time introducing the new concepts that come with the new song, and talking about them, then listening to him play the song, finding the tougher parts, isolating them, and giving him the tools he needs to overcome the problem, and repeating the phrase until he can play it confidently. Then we put it back in the context of the song, and play it fluidly. I LOVE the teacher accompaniments!

The last 10 minutes of the lesson (his favorite part) are when we "review." Review is going back and playing many of the old songs he already knows, and can play easily... his favorites right now are Hot Cross Buns, Train Song, Men From Mars, Banana Split, and Rodeo.

He's a pretty happy kid, and I'm a pretty happy dad. Thanks for the advice, and if anyone has more, I could use it.

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#2043434 - 03/05/13 03:27 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
Hi:
I am going to give you a resource that is not really related to what you post, but will benefit your young child overall in the journey of learning music.
Check out this link: TeachBabyMusicAtHome
As a piano teacher, I have a copy of this software about teaching music to your baby, and I have to say that I am amaze about their quality, content and method!
Give your baby a gift of perfect pitch! Yes it is possible, read link 1 and link 2

Why start to teach your baby reading, math, and music so early?

Because......

50% of a person's ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life.
Another 30% is developed by the eighth birthday.
Those vital years lay down the pathways on which all future learning is based.
After age ten, the branches that haven't made connections die off.
Youngsters are their own best educators, parents their best first teachers.

This 5-point checklist comes from the introductory page of chapter 7, entitled The vital years, from the world's best-selling book of 1999, The Learning Revolution, by Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos.


Edited by ezpiano.org (03/05/13 03:27 PM)
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2043510 - 03/05/13 06:27 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: ezpiano.org]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11842
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org

Why start to teach your baby reading, math, and music so early?

Because......

50% of a person's ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life.
Another 30% is developed by the eighth birthday..

A commercial product is not a good resource for giving information on learning. The statistics are set out in a way to give misleading impressions to an uninformed public. Children go through developmental stages, including how their minds develop and this is discounted. It is disturbing to even see this advertisement here, quoted as information on learning. I cannot speak about the product on music. It may be perfectly fine, and EZpiano may be a judge to that if s/he has tested it.

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#2043513 - 03/05/13 06:31 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12200
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Mooseknuckle
Thanks for all of the comments folks!

I don't have any delusions that I'm raising a Mozart here.
My child doesn't dread lessons; he looks forward to the time we spend together each evening in front of the piano.
He has friends, he takes dance lessons (enjoys those too), is on a tee-ball team, and I take him swimming every weekend, and we do nature hikes in the park behind our house.

Basically, we have a pretty normal father/son relationship, and he often goes up and plays the piano outside of lessons, and is always quick to show off his playing to other folks at church, or the grand-parents house. Hope we can stop the talk about this now.

Thanks for suggesting the other set of Faber books, I wish I had gone into those from the start. I feel like I'm already pretty invested in the Primer set, and I'm relatively happy with the results I'm getting here. I'm also elated to hear that the flat-finger thing isn't a huge worry. I'm a bit dubious about the claims that his fingers aren't getting enough rest, or that his eyes are being unduly strained. He has an optometrist, and his vision is fine, and the notes in the Primer are pretty big.

I realize that that horizontal note tracking probably just takes practice, so I wont worry too much about that either. I find that if I cover his hands with a book while he's playing, he does much better at reading the notes and not making mistakes. I think it's just a matter of getting him used to reading with his eyes and translating that to the fingers. I just don't want him to develop a consistent habit of relying on (faulty) memory to play the melodies.

Someone also commented that our daily lessons are probably more like "practice sessions." That's correct. I usually spend the time introducing the new concepts that come with the new song, and talking about them, then listening to him play the song, finding the tougher parts, isolating them, and giving him the tools he needs to overcome the problem, and repeating the phrase until he can play it confidently. Then we put it back in the context of the song, and play it fluidly. I LOVE the teacher accompaniments!

The last 10 minutes of the lesson (his favorite part) are when we "review." Review is going back and playing many of the old songs he already knows, and can play easily... his favorites right now are Hot Cross Buns, Train Song, Men From Mars, Banana Split, and Rodeo.

He's a pretty happy kid, and I'm a pretty happy dad. Thanks for the advice, and if anyone has more, I could use it.


This sounds pretty healthy to me at this point. Perhaps in the future he will be able to take lessons, but I think this is great father/son time and you appear to be keeping it fun for him.

You can certainly do some of the types of things found in My First Piano Adventures without investing them. There are numerous websites out there and you can search this forum as well for games to do with preschoolers. I find with the young ones you can never have too many activities in your back pocket smile .
_________________________
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#2043557 - 03/05/13 08:12 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
ezpiano.org Offline
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Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
Here is another commercial resource if you want to teach your kid play scales.

Hope you will not feel too disturbing when I share resources here, or I can be selfish just keep the good things to myself. If moderator think this is an advertisement, he is welcome to take this down.
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#2043594 - 03/05/13 09:12 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11842
Loc: Canada
Ez, my problem was not that it was a commercial product (advertisement) but that it was twisting facts for the sake of advertisement, and thus giving misinformation on learning. There are developmental stages in learning. Earlier is not necessarily better for some things, because of these stages.

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#2043599 - 03/05/13 09:19 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: keystring]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Ez, my problem was not that it was a commercial product (advertisement) but that it was twisting facts for the sake of advertisement, and thus giving misinformation on learning. There are developmental stages in learning. Earlier is not necessarily better for some things, because of these stages.


Okay, no problem. I believe earlier is better.
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Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
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#2043737 - 03/06/13 02:48 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Can’t resist one more crack at the OP who comes clean with ... the following lumpy treatise ...

“I don't have any delusions that I'm raising a Mozart here.”
(what a relief!)

“My child doesn't dread lessons”
(more relief!);

“he looks forward to the time we spend together
each evening in front of the piano.”
(but why not instead, read him the story of Treasure Island?)

“He has friends,”
(Nice to know that the tike has friends ...
how many friends came to his 4th birthday party?)

“he takes dance lessons”
(not necessary ... kicking up heels comes nachurly)

“is on a tee-ball team,”
(presumably for co-ordination)

“and I take him swimming every weekend,”
(boys should learn how to swim at an early age)

“and we do nature hikes in the park behind our house.”
(not too quick ... remember small legs)

PS Wouldn’t it be nice if the boy had a brother?

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#2043739 - 03/06/13 02:53 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: ezpiano.org]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5586
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Here is another commercial resource if you want to teach your kid play scales.

You use this? Seriously???

You might as well buy your students keyboards with keys that light up.
_________________________
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#2043902 - 03/06/13 12:02 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: btb]
Mooseknuckle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/07/09
Posts: 14
Originally Posted By: btb
Can’t resist one more crack at the OP who comes clean with ... the following lumpy treatise ...

“he looks forward to the time we spend together
each evening in front of the piano.”
(but why not instead, read him the story of Treasure Island?)

PS Wouldn’t it be nice if the boy had a brother?



Have you even read TI? I'm 38, read it a year ago, and found it even moderately difficult to parse as an adult. He has a hard time keeping up with Uncle Wiggily as it is.

He does however have a two-year old brother who's already rockin' HCB: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnU8d10MOhY

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#2044032 - 03/06/13 04:53 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: AZNpiano]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1027
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Here is another commercial resource if you want to teach your kid play scales.

You use this? Seriously???

You might as well buy your students keyboards with keys that light up.


Of course with many other resources (ops, can't share anymore because disappointed with people in the forum) to make it successful.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2044038 - 03/06/13 05:07 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: ezpiano.org]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5586
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Here is another commercial resource if you want to teach your kid play scales.

You use this? Seriously???

You might as well buy your students keyboards with keys that light up.


Of course with many other resources (ops, can't share anymore because disappointed with people in the forum) to make it successful.

I am still baffled by the need for such a device. What does it actually do? It doesn't "teach" scales. It merely lays out finger numbers on some random keys that just happen to make up a scale.
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#2044116 - 03/06/13 08:05 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You might be interested to know that this device was created by a student because he found it helpful to think if scale fingerings this way. Student-led learning!

Some students are more visual, some more kinesthetic, some aural. If this device works for a student, why not?

I wouldn't use it for every student, but surely it helps some. It's not to teach the scale itself, but the coordination of the fingering.
_________________________
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#2044324 - 03/07/13 04:09 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mooseknuckle

He does however have a two-year old brother who's already rockin' HCB: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnU8d10MOhY


Hey, they kid is really cute!

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#2044325 - 03/07/13 04:12 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Any boy of 4 can get the gist of these opening lines
of "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson

"I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow--a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cover and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:

"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest-- Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared, called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him, he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste and still looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.

"This is a handy cove," says he at length; "and a pleasant sittyated grog-shop. Much company, mate?"
My father told him no, very little company, the more was the pity.

"Well, then," said he, "this is the berth for me. Here you, matey," he cried to the man who trundled the barrow; "bring up alongside and help up my chest. I'll stay here a bit," he continued. "I'm a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch ships off. What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you're at-- there"; and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold. "You can tell me when I've worked through that," says he, looking as fierce as a commander."

"Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

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#2044441 - 03/07/13 10:07 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: btb]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
LOL, not any 4 year old, but one who has the attention span to be on a tball team, swim, piano, and take group instruction dance lessons all within a week can surely follow the story!

There are also abridged copies (some controversy exists with these).

I will say for a deeper understanding, my daughter enjoyed Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer much more at 10 than she would have at 4.


Edited by MaggieGirl (03/07/13 10:10 AM)

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#2044452 - 03/07/13 10:26 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12200
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Just a comment, but it does seem like a lot of activities. Does he have free play/down time at all? I ask because many of the students I encounter these days are overbooked and stressed out. Having unstructured time is very important for the creative process at any age, but especially in these young developing minds. Relaxing is a learned behavior.
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#2044478 - 03/07/13 11:24 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Oh, how well I remember as children sitting round a winter fire, as the dear old Pater, read about Tom and Huck.

Memories, memories ...

“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.
That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied, one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.

Aunt Polly, Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is ... and Mary, and the Widow Douglas, is all told about in that book ... which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.”

Samuel Clemens could sure spin a yarn.

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#2044483 - 03/07/13 11:30 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
MrsLois Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 75
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
If you're concerned about his finger form, I would suggest teaching him to think of it as a spider with nice tall legs (granted, this won't work if he doesn't like spiders!), and we don't want our spider to get squished or fall down. I use this with my 4 and 5 year old students (and I have a lot of them), and I find this is successful in achieving good finger form.

At this stage, I might also suggest you find ways to develop his ear. Between the ages of 3 and 6, the ear is at its peak of sensitivity, whereas the finger muscles do not develop strongly until approximately 7 years old. You might find that teaching some pieces by straight imitation, without having him look at the book, helps develop his ear. Have him pick out some well-known songs by ear, on all white-keys, for example, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle, Hot Cross Buns, etc. This may appear to be regressing, BUT if taken as an opportunity to develop the ear, this can develop his musical 'instincts' and help further his musicality when playing other pieces.

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#2044491 - 03/07/13 11:59 AM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Morodiene]
Mooseknuckle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/07/09
Posts: 14
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Just a comment, but it does seem like a lot of activities. Does he have free play/down time at all? I ask because many of the students I encounter these days are overbooked and stressed out. Having unstructured time is very important for the creative process at any age, but especially in these young developing minds. Relaxing is a learned behavior.


I guess it could seem overwhelming, but at 4 years, he's yet to start kindergarten, which means he has 7 days a week to fill with activity, so in addition to the activities I've enumerated, he's actually doing much more, but he's got more downtime than my wife knows what to do with.

I really like the idea of ear-training. That's something I wish I had a lot more developed in myself, and now's a great time to start with it.

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#2044511 - 03/07/13 12:46 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
It's hard to believe now, but one of the biggest 'gifts' is for a child to learn how to entertain themselves on their own without electronics or being in a structured environment.

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#2044531 - 03/07/13 01:55 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: Mooseknuckle]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Amen to that, MaggieGirl!
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#2045059 - 03/08/13 12:59 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Van Cliburn's early training was quite strict. And came from his mother.


Poor fellow. Think of the baggage in later life. He could have started with folk dancing and Kodaly singing.

Peter, VC got some serious baggage! Met him at Interlochen back in '63 at an after concert party. He seemed to have "issues" even then.

I was waiting to read that from someone. No matter how well he played when he was on top, and I think he did some impressive playing, the fact that he STOPPED playing so young, then was content to keep his name alive through a now international competition while continuing NOT to play publically seems like a warning to all of us.

There are other people who also had "issues" - Horowitz had many - but some of them continued playing till the day they died.

I'd point to them as models, not the child who were all but tortured at a young age and who were later left emotionally scarred.
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#2046232 - 03/10/13 10:44 PM Re: Teaching a 4 year-old [Re: sonataplayer]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 206
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: sonataplayer
Hi Mooseknuckle,

45 minute lessons six days a week seems like a lot for a 4-year old to handle. Is he enjoying his lessons?

Also, insisting on perfection with notes, rhythm and dynamics before progressing on to new music seems like a somewhat unrealistic expectation for a 4-year old unless he is unusually gifted.

What is the rush? I believe if you waited until he was six or seven he'd progress much faster and perhaps enjoy his lessons more.


Precisely what I was thinking. Let him learn to enjoy the instrument first.

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