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#2271435 - 05/05/14 01:24 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: Cardinal201]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 631
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Cardinal201,

You seem anxious about your skills as a practice helper and their impact (or lack thereof) to a degree that strikes me as unhealthy for you, and quite possibly unhealthy for your son as well.

Have you ever tried to just back off for a week? And I don't mean forget about supporting your son in his piano practice altogether. I mean remind him: now's your daily practice time. Listen from afar while you do the dishes (or something of that nature). If you hear him goofing off, let him do that for a while, and then remind him what he was working on, if you absolutely must wink. Make sure he knows you'll be nearby to answer questions if he has any; but when he asks you about something you don't know, just say "that's a great question. Why don't we write it down so you can ask your teacher at the next lesson?" Then pat him on the back for a job well done, and call it good.

What would be the worst that could happen, in this scenario? If indeed he isn't quite ready to practice independently, then ... well, he'll be goofing around a lot. Who knows what kind of awesome improvisations might come of it? And if none do, that'll be fine, too!
Practice sessions will be less efficient when you're not there every minute. But really, at the age of six, where's the harm in that? It's not like he needs to juggle piano with six other kinds of homework, and/or a full-time job, and/or a crying baby, and/or a carpet that needs urgent cleaning, right?

I am saying this not as a piano teacher nor as a parent, but as a clinical psychologist (by training if not currently by profession), and as a cub scout leader, and as a student currently undergoing teacher training. Most of all, though, I'm saying it as one who was forced to learn violin at the age of five, with a grandmother who had the best of intentions, but was looking over my shoulder almost constantly.

The moral of that little story is not that I was force-fed musical instruction as a child, and therefore I am now bitter and unable to muster a passion for music. In fact, the opposite is true: if I have been a life-long music lover, it is in no small part thanks to the influence of my grandmother. What I am saying, though, is that her constant hovering put me under pressure to excel at all times, which I could not. Nobody can. I'm sure my grandmother didn't consciously *want* to instil in me a strong fear of failure, but that is what she did (she wasn't the only one responsible, but that's too long a story to be told, here). In any case, being subjected to this kind of pressure at such a young age (while inevitably falling short of my own and other people's expectations now and then) did quite a number on my self-esteem and, more importantly, my willingness to take a risk once in a while. It took me two decades to learn that it's OK not to be perfect all the time.

I'm positive that I never was, and never will be as talented as your son appears to be. But the fact that he *is* that talented should be self-reinforcing. If he enjoys playing and is good at it, he doesn't *really* need his mother to sit next to him during practice and help him use every minute of practice as efficiently as possible. He'll practice because he likes to practice, and as time goes on, he'll figure out quicker ways to get where he's going on his own, or with pointers from his teacher who, unlike you, supposedly knows exactly how to guide him in the right direction.

I think that if every teacher here could be certain that every parent who brings a child to their studio will provide even half of the support you give your son, they'd all be ecstatic. But for your own good and that of your child, I say: consider dialling it down a bit!

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#2271455 - 05/05/14 02:20 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: Cardinal201]
The Monkeys Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 428
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
And while I felt helplessness and guilt, it was my son that felt the frustration.


I am delighted to see that your concern was not over the technical flaw itself, but the frustration of your boy.

What a child can do at 6 tells little about who he will become at later life. But the emotional wellness at the young age could have a life long impact.

Stress and frustration comes from the pressure of meeting expectations. They can not be resolved by technical advancement, because it will be always an imperfections, then the next, always a more advanced piece, then the next.

Stress and frustration can only be resolved by managing pressures. Before he can handle the pressure well by himself, as a parent, I will pay far more attention on finding out where the pressure came from, and fend it off.

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#2271462 - 05/05/14 02:31 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: Cardinal201]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Cardinal201, Saranoya has said much better, and with more expertise, something that I have been thinking about how to suggest for quite a while now, but without being able to figure out the words for it.

Is this guilt coming from expectations that you think your son's teacher is imposing, or is it coming from within yourself? Your son's teacher, if she's good, should be giving you ideas about encouraging and supporting your son that leave both you and your son feeling good, not miserable and helpless.

You should not have to feel guilty that the teacher's other students practice more than your son. He's practicing an incredible amount for almost any usual piano student, let alone for a six-year-old in his second year of piano study.

You should not have to feel beholden to this teacher and feel incredibly lucky that your son is in her studio, when neither you nor your son wanted to switch to this teacher to start with, and were only coerced into it because the previous teacher refused to continue teaching your son because she thought she wasn't advanced enough to teach him.

I would wish for you a local community of healthy and happy piano parents and piano students, who could model for you reasonable and happy ways of fostering their children's musical progress. It is possible that none of the parents and students in your son's current teacher's studio may be right for modeling this.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2271463 - 05/05/14 02:34 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: The Monkeys]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Stress and frustration can only be resolved by managing pressures. Before he can handle the pressure well by himself, as a parent, I will pay far more attention on finding out where the pressure came from, and fend it off.

And this applies not only to her son, but also to Cardinal201, who is feeling great pressure, and I hope will find ways to fend it off. It's like oxygen masks: help yourself, then you will be able to help your child.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2271511 - 05/05/14 04:20 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: The Monkeys]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Stress and frustration comes from the pressure of meeting expectations. They can not be resolved by technical advancement, because it will be always an imperfections, then the next, always a more advanced piece, then the next.

I agree with this, and I want to add that age must be added to the parent's consideration.

There are plenty of child geniuses whose mental capacity far exceeds their physical development. In the case of piano, a lot of physical development issues will prevent a 6-year-old boy from playing any intermediate repertoire well: evenness of 16th notes, internalization of pulse, subdivision of beats (triplets vs. 16th notes), stretching for intervals larger than a 7th, sharp staccatos, etc.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2273251 - 05/09/14 01:04 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: Cardinal201]
Cardinal201 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I hear you--my little guy and myself both need to give ourselves a break!

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#2273336 - 05/09/14 04:46 PM Re: Supporting young student [Re: Cardinal201]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1023
Loc: Irvine, CA
Quote:
But the fact that he *is* that talented should be self-reinforcing. If he enjoys playing and is good at it, he doesn't *really* need his mother to sit next to him during practice and help him use every minute of practice as efficiently as possible. He'll practice because he likes to practice, and as time goes on, he'll figure out quicker ways to get where he's going on his own, or with pointers from his teacher who, unlike you, supposedly knows exactly how to guide him in the right direction.


I have to say that I re-read this passage more than ten times and am totally agree with it.
_________________________
http://ezpiano.org
Piano lessons in Irvine, CA
Watch the introduction video on YouTube
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