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#2086244 - 05/21/13 01:06 PM Distracted Student
rachrocks Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Hello,
This is first post and I'm excited to be a part of this forum. I hope to learn a lot. I have a 3-4 year old piano student who loves the piano, but when I try to teach her notes and that sort of thing, she has a hard time paying attention. I understand that it is typical and expected for them to be that way, but she is just barely remembering the names of the notes and I feel that we can't move on until she learns the notes. Does anyone have a fun way of teaching young students the basics of theory and where the notes are?
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#2086249 - 05/21/13 01:21 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10793
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Does she know her alphabet and numbers really well? Can she read words? Complete sentences? I would not be doing any reading-based activities at this age. A lot of singing, dancing, clapping, playing percussion instruments to the beat of music, things like that.
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#2086250 - 05/21/13 01:21 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
I think with that age you have to take it verrrrrrrryyyyy slowly. Are you using a method book, or just doing it on your own? I ask because even if you aren't using one, I think you should at least know they are available and can get some ideas for how to introduce notes. For example, in the Faber young/early beginners series (the one with which I am most familiar,) they first do a lot on the black keys, and don't worry about letter names,and then very slowly teach the names on the keyboard, and then very slowly introduce the lines and spaces. And to make it more engaging for such a young child, they do things like, for example, to teach Middle C, they introduce it like a cat; they put a little cat-face in it, and the ledger lines are his whiskers. Cute, right? Then you can use that as a reminder whenever the kid can't remember Middle C: "See the whiskers? Remember the 'C Cat'?" Then they have a little rhyme/chant with hand motions for remembering a few other notes, etc.

I teach three 5/6 yo's right now (I started them all when they were 5, and believe me, it is not my favorite. They ALL have a lot of trouble remembering the note names. I personally wouldn't recommend starting that young except for rare cases. I think the kid will only be barely ahead of someone who doesn't start til 7 or 8. When I teach that young, I think it has to viewed more as just general "music familiarity" rather than going to learn a ton of music.

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#2086253 - 05/21/13 01:27 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
rachrocks Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thank you for your replies. I don't use method books currently, but I might start. I am going to wait for her to start learning a boat-load of pieces, definitely. She is beginning to get where the notes are, I am just wondering if there are fun ways of doing that. Are there games you recommend for young students?
_________________________
Give me a good, quality piano and I will give you a masterpiece

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#2086266 - 05/21/13 01:49 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: rachrocks
Hello,
This is first post and I'm excited to be a part of this forum. I hope to learn a lot. I have a 3-4 year old piano student who loves the piano, but when I try to teach her notes and that sort of thing, she has a hard time paying attention. I understand that it is typical and expected for them to be that way, but she is just barely remembering the names of the notes and I feel that we can't move on until she learns the notes. Does anyone have a fun way of teaching young students the basics of theory and where the notes are?


Welcome to the forum. You might want to do a topic search, as several excellent suggestions for your problem have already appeared. A 3-4 year old needs lots of hand-holding and parental involvement. There are a number of programs designed just for these situations. I can tell you from personal experience that I've worked with several students in their early 4's and it's a challenge. And not for every teacher. Good luck.
_________________________
"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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#2086288 - 05/21/13 02:16 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11200
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I can tell you from personal experience that I've worked with several students in their early 4's and it's a challenge.

I still remember the fascinating story of the young student you taught, and the success through what you did and how you did it. It must be in the archives and findable.

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#2086291 - 05/21/13 02:20 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 225
Loc: North Carolina
Sorry, but she is just 3-4 (as you stated) years old!
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Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
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#2086294 - 05/21/13 02:27 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Have you studied child development at all?
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B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#2086303 - 05/21/13 02:45 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
ezpiano.org Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 966
Loc: Irvine, CA
I have a few 3-4 YO in my studio. It is their nature to be distracted. My lesson design to be maximum 30 minutes, but a lot of them opt for 20 minutes, or only 15 minutes if they are the second sibling in the family. You would need to change activities every 5 minutes to capture their attention.
Teaching students in this age group is actually harder than teaching regular students such as 7-10 YO. I would say that if is not done right, it could damage the child. You need a lot of research before you keep going.
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Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
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#2086342 - 05/21/13 03:49 PM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Hi and welcome to this incredible forum! I like your screen name, too cool

I currently have 3 4-yr old students and they all enjoy www.susanparadis.com games and music. Check out her website for note-reading materials, on and on. It's a very helpful, useful resource for me.
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#2086659 - 05/22/13 08:51 AM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
pianogirl87 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 107
Loc: New Jersey
Teaching 3-4 year olds is not for everyone. It is very typical and expected that they will be distracted. You cannot teach them like a traditional beginner.

I tend to do a lot of away-from-the-piano activities with them. Like games, singing songs, playing percussion instruments, etc. The method book I use with them also has a CD, so in addition to their weekly piece (when they get to that point), I have them just listen to the CD to develop their listening skills.

If you're thinking of using a method, there are some great ones out there. My recommendation is My First Piano Adventure by the Fabers. It moves at a pretty slow pace, and introduces notes in various ways.
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Pianist/Accompanist/Piano Instructor

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#2086714 - 05/22/13 10:49 AM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10793
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I forgot to say welcome to the forum! I was in a hurry when I posted wink
_________________________
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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#2087254 - 05/23/13 09:42 AM Re: Distracted Student [Re: rachrocks]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Rach, I have no idea what your background is as a teacher, some of what I will say will probably sound like stuff you learned in college or music school... so my apologies if you already know thi stuff.

Have you thought about using some Kodaly? Or using the Orff approach? And read about Suzuki, he seems to be a person who generates a lot of controversy - it's always good to go straight to the source and to read about him, to attend workshops or PD days so that you could try certain approaches and methods and see what works. Look into kindermusick

Here are some of the things I do with young children:
- I get their parents to sit in the lesson and watch me teach, I write what needs to be practiced in the week and advise the parent to supervise and guide their child during practice, I will be very detailed and specific to how long a practice session lasts for, what it should look like and what should happen in the session
- I have the children create a pulse by hitting their knees, or patting their laps for them to understand the idea of pulse (I think internalising is better than using a metronome)
- We play copy cat games - this is handy for teaching piano technique, I talk about how they have to copy the EXACT notes I play in the five finger position AND that their hands and fingers have to look like mine (cupped, curved, etc) - I play three notes - they play three notes - e.g. ABC, BCD, etc (It's essentially the Orff Approach if you think about it - the imitation process at least)
- We play pitch games - reaching up high to indicate a high pitch, touching the ground with low pitches, and standing straight when they are in the middle
- Lots of singing - minor third songs and games
- Improvising on Black Keys (and giving a limited set of rules so it is easier)
- I improvise different kinds of music and ask him/her to tell me what are the different feelings
- We use time names (ta, ti ti, too, etc) - I have flashcards and I combine them into four beat rhythms - we say and clap them together
- Dancing to music - again another Orff-like thing
- As far as reading goes, I think at 3-4, it's optional (they don't read at that age, at least when it comes to what is taught in school - some of them can, but it generally doesn't always happen - in fact if you read about the big guys (Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze, Suzuki) they seem to not advocate it so strongly with early learning)

I could go on - anyway, there are loads of books out there - Chosky is a prolific writer on teaching methods in music education and early learning.
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