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#2106683 - 06/23/13 11:21 AM Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do?
P.M. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/27/11
Posts: 18
I have a student who started with me last October. She transferred from another teacher. She was learning Suzuki method. I have not taught Suzuki but when she came to me she did not know what a time signature was, did not know her scales, was not a good reader, etc. Her teacher simply had a book and she was required to pass a page every class. The pieces were pretty boring and I could tell the girl had little motivation to do this. The mom, however, was insistent that the girl take piano lessons and continue them. I could tell from the way that the mother spoke that she wanted her daughter to learn piano at all costs and do well (i.e. eventually compete, play professionally). The mother was unhappy with how the girl was progressing and so they transferred to me.

Because the mom wanted her to progress fast (I guess to do note reading faster and fill in the gaps), she started bringing her to me twice a week. She still takes lessons twice a week. I try to give her pieces that would be interesting to her and ask for her input. I do supplement pieces with etudes and scales so that she gets the technical work as well. She has gotten better at reading, in fact she reads well. However I can tell that she has no real voice in her piano studies and is not really excited about this, most likely because the mother puts a lot of pressure on her. She gets frustrated and unhappy a lot and just wants certain parts of our lesson to be over (i.e. scales, etudes)The mother also does not come with her to lessons, it is her father and he is not very involved, I believe he just takes her because of the wife's orders.

To make things worse, the mother schedules her daughter to take tennis, basketball, volleyball, etc....thus over-scheduling the child. She wants great results at piano....yet she does not realize that it takes a lot of time and that internal love of piano/studying piano in the child is probably the most important factor in this.

Recently she emailed me to tell me that her daughter has no motivation to practice and that she is progressing at the same pace as she was with the Suzuki teacher.....she asked me for suggestions.

How can I tell her that she's perhaps the result in the loss of motivation and perhaps she needs to have a conversation with her daughter about her feelings towards piano, etc? She is a very intense and charged individual and is rather hard to talk to....also I feel she does not really know what she wants but is constantly trying to reach some kind of high standard in every activity her daughter does.

Thoughts???

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#2106747 - 06/23/13 01:27 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
poor kid.

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#2106760 - 06/23/13 01:47 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I would suggest that you both try letting her daughter choose a song of her own interest [ even if it is Lady Gaga]. If that works let her mom take her to a music store and browse some music. It's ok if she picks out something too difficult...she can work her way through a hand at a time or a measure at a time. Maybe this will spark some interest, maybe not.

rada

ps...my personal feeling is that parents that push their children in this way are usually frustrated because they themselves did not do very well.

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#2106763 - 06/23/13 01:50 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
ColinH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/10
Posts: 21
Loc: UK
Ideally, the TM would be helped to acknowledge her best course of action would be to take up learning an instrument herself.

Her energy would then have a positive effect. As a result, she may be able to inspire an interest or even a love in an activity for its own sake.

The TM may learn a thing or two about the effort required and her child may eventually be able to take up and excel at something she enjoys.

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#2106798 - 06/23/13 02:32 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Mum must be told to cancel some of the other activities, to allow time for homework, piano practice and social play.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2106852 - 06/23/13 04:47 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
Elysia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/10
Posts: 193
Loc: Canada
I usually just hint, I say things like " I didn't give your child much work this week because it sounds like they have a lot of other activities" its a bit of a guilt hint. as mentioned by others it is important to have the student play a song of their choice but when it comes to technical practises I always relate the technical to favourite song they are practising and put a detailed note in their practise book. I am always communicating with the parent about their child's breakthroughs and progress with struggles they are having, it is important to keep the parents proud and likely this will lead to piano having a higher priority.
I'm not sure if any of this helps.
_________________________
Follow me on twitter, @elysia3012

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#2106874 - 06/23/13 05:38 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
I think it's really hard to accurately assess other people's parenting styles from infrequent observations, and harder to decide whether they are doing the right thing for their children----after all, parenting philosophies are subjective and very personal and there isn't a model that fits all. But others can offer concrete opinions based on facts. For example, a teacher might let the parent know very clearly the child's strengths and weaknesses in her musical study, suggest concrete steps to improve, discuss the parent's and the child's goals, discuss the child's practice routine and pinpoint problems (such as certain ways of practice not being effecive, or the amount of practice time not compatible with their goals, etc). Then the parent and the child need to figure out how to make their goals comparable and how to reach their goals. If they realize that they need to adjust their daily routine to accommodate their musical goals, then that would be their decision.

As a parent, I would probably be offended if a teacher hints that I need to change my parenting styles, especially if I know that the teacher really doesn't know me or my family much.

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#2106875 - 06/23/13 05:42 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: Elysia]
P.M. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/27/11
Posts: 18
Talking to mom is usually difficult because she always seems to have new ideas on things and asks if twice a week is too much or not enough etc. She jumps all over the place in conversation.......and I just get frustrated with her.....so I try to avoid calling her because I get a lot of run around with her. I think she wants some kind of quick fix to make her daughter great at piano but she herself does not get involved with the lessons....so I don't really know what to tell her.

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#2106878 - 06/23/13 05:54 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
Elysia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/10
Posts: 193
Loc: Canada
The job does require working with different personalities and as childofparadise said different parenting styles. Could you ask either the father or mother to sit in on the lesson? How old is this child? We will always have difficult parents, I like the parents who ask how to help their child practise but this isn't always the case 😊
_________________________
Follow me on twitter, @elysia3012

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#2106963 - 06/23/13 09:20 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
asiantraveller101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/08
Posts: 158
Loc: ME
I had a pair of sisters whose mom was exactly as you described. They were busy with multiple activities, and the kids were tired by the time they got home from all their activities. I couldn't blame them if they didn't have the time nor the energy to practice. Eventually I realized that the kids could spend more time with me...like supervised practice plus lesson, and be more integrated into their busy schedule. Since money was not an issue for her, and likewise in your case, I got the kids to come 4 times a week. They enjoyed this arrangement so much better because the pressure of trying to practice was now "shared" and "supervised" by me and they didn't have to fight with mom at home regarding practice time. Both did very well and even won some competitions later on. Mom felt good too: since she did not have to fight with the kids, kids got better under constant supervision, and for some odd reason, I suspect, paying more money helped her to think that she was doing more for her kids.
Perhaps this might be a possible solution to your dilemma.
_________________________
JN

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#2107010 - 06/24/13 12:28 AM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10354
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
You haven't said whether or not the TM plays an instrument, but I'm guessing she does not. Or perhaps she once dabbled many years ago but without approaching anything like real competence. In that case, you might want to suggest to her (very gently) that she read something about the process of learning music. Perhaps you have a favorite short book on the subject that you could recommend. She might listen to that kind of detached authority more than to you, and it might make conversations more productive, though not necessarily more relaxed.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#2107047 - 06/24/13 04:12 AM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Hand full of salt needed for this, as you may lose a client!

Asian parents eh...

They don't mellow out until sons and daughters are in their 40s. My buddy Kawashima plays is 45 years old, lives alone yet hides the fact he plays guitar from his parents.

But

You're going to have to use their mentality against them.

This is a tough nut to crack as old habits die hard...

Firstly you can use the 10,000 rule on them, 10,000 conveniently means forever in Chinese and I think Korean..... you can use examples like Lang Lang or yo yo ma.

These musicians are great because they spent years honing the craft. You don't become expert overnight. If they are Chinese you can use the example Li Ka Shing against them, (Li Ka Shing is rich but it took him 40 years to make it). Japanese, you can use the example of Sochiru Honda, again it took 40 years to finally break the motorvehicle market for him.

Except it doesn't stop here, they will cherry pick examples, like so and so's son/daughter whatever did this and that and could do it, my child is smarter therefore can do the same...... like this child here.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y0JsOTqrnw

Ok so the 10,000 hour rule is discredited...... but this demonstrates that you NEED to focus on one thing to get uber results.

If they are Chinese a classic Wuxia novel legend of the Condor heroes is an excellent example. Guo Jing has SEVEN sifu for 7 different fighting styles, because he has so much on his plate, he masters NONE of these fighting styles subsequently he is constantly getting beaten in fights.


If they don't listen it is pointless to fight against 4000 years of mental conditioning.

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#2107129 - 06/24/13 09:57 AM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...How can I tell her that she's perhaps the result in the loss of motivation..."

Plain English. Plain, short, and easy-to-remember. And strike that word, "Perhaps."

"...She is a very intense and charged individual and is rather hard to talk to....also I feel she does not really know what she wants..."

And that is what you are there for: to tell her what she wants. Or anyway, what she can expect: a girl who makes good progress in the face of a lack of unusual talent, or a particular love for the instrument. A good girl, to be proud of.

This is not the kind of person where it pays to hold back the truth, or waste your breath. Keep in mind her short attention span. I'm tempted to suggest more particulars, but you already know what to say.
_________________________
Clef


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#2107168 - 06/24/13 12:10 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: AsiaTraveler101
They enjoyed this arrangement so much better because the pressure of trying to practice was now "shared" and "supervised" by me and they didn't have to fight with mom at home regarding practice time. Both did very well and even won some competitions later on. Mom felt good too: since she did not have to fight with the kids, kids got better under constant supervision, and for some odd reason, I suspect, paying more money helped her to think that she was doing more for her kids.


I feel good reading this. Maybe you can try an arrangement like this too? You can arrange one lesson per week at the regular price, then have them come to you three more times during the week for practice session with 20% discounted price?
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
@ http://bit.ly/Ready123

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#2107258 - 06/24/13 02:54 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
Poor student, but I would tell the mother you are not a good fit for this child. Don't feel bad for the parent because I would lay a strong bet that she will eventually leave you too. These type of parents hop around teacher to teacher.
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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#2107628 - 06/25/13 04:24 AM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: P.M.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Poet William Blake said

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
in the forests of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

It might be a good idea to send the tiger into
"the forests of the night" ... perhaps a long
holiday to China and back.

Suzuki is for the violin ... not for the keyboard ...
where co-ordinating the movement of ten fingers
takes some holding down.

It takes a lifetime to master the reading of notation ...
it's nonsense to expect a child to be adept.

Please don't shoot the tiger.

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#2109051 - 06/27/13 12:23 PM Re: Tiger Mom Squashing Motivation to Learn Piano....What to do? [Re: btb]
missbelle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/12
Posts: 87
Loc: USA
Years ago, right after college, I had my first private piano students, including a brother and sister who had a very driven father.
the son, about 4th grade, actually cried at the keyboard because he was so stressed with all he had to do. he listed his activities and I was floored. he was never home, had no time to practice, even had dinner on the run!

I asked the dad (non-parent that I was at the time) why he was pushing so much on his kids. He told me that a kid had to be good at soccer by age 4 or they were never chosen for league play. a child had to be musically talented in grade school or would never make band and thus performance chances and college, and that only knowing one language was a disservice to a child, so his kids were in two language classes! (Caucasian family)

we wound up moving so the lessons stopped, but i wonder how those kids turned out. my own son is now 17, and puts pressure on himself, but I always think of that dad's conversation whenever I consider adding another activity or goal.

Stressing out your child and killing the joy is not parenting, it is programming.

I second the idea of multiple weekly lessons,as guided practice times for some of them.

Also, since the mom began her with Suzuki piano, if it was true methodology, the mom should be in the lessons, anyway, writing down assignments and guiding practice at home, along with family listening to piano music and going to performances.

But, she wants that magical teacher that can unlock hidden talent in 5 easy lessons, and produce a genius prodigy.

tell her that the secret to genius is hours and hours of hard work and family support and sacrifice to other activities!
_________________________
Learning as I teach.

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