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#940132 - 10/03/08 12:13 PM "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Kemerrit Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/08/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
A month or so ago, I was having a hard time finding a way to approach teaching piano to my 4 year old student. All of you had very helpful advice! I printed out some musical symbols for my younger students to color, and they absolutely loved it. I even taught one Chopstix as a way of teaching intervals...haha \:\) As a new teacher, I think I am getting the hang of it!

But I do have one 4 year old (Anna)that refuses to cooperate. She will play maybe one or two short songs before she starts running wild around my studio. When I can get her to actually sit on the piano bench (for about 1 minute..) She just bangs on the keys as obnoxiously as possible. Then she will go limp like a ragdoll and expects me to hold her up like a little baby. As much as I say "Stop" and "No!", she refuses to listen to me.

I dont think there is an exact age where one is able to learn music, specifically piano. I know that everyone's style of learning is unique. Meaning one child may be able to sit and retain information, while another may run around like a wild animal...

Anna's mother believes she is too young, and could probably try again in a year or so. It's really her father that is convinced that she is the next Mozart. When her father confronted Anna about her behavior after her lesson, she flat out said "I dont want to do it anymore!"

I'm not sure how to explain to Anna'a father that she just doesnt have the attention span. I told him just to think about it and maybe talk it over with her mother. I want to be as honest as possible without insulting Anna's potential...

Butif she doesnt want to do it anymore, then why should she have to keep taking lessons?

Any advice?

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#940133 - 10/03/08 12:19 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
eromlignod Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 379
Loc: Kansas City
4 is too young.

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#940134 - 10/03/08 12:20 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
The best thing to do is to drop her as a student. Explain to her father that she is just not mature enough to handle lessons at this point, but advise him to encourage her to sing along with music, listen to lots of music (especially piano), and not to push her. She might sense how serious her father is and may not like that music isn't "fun" anymore. Don't necessarily put the blame on the father, but simply state that she's not quite ready for serious study and to revisit the idea of lessons in a year once she's been in school a bit and gotten used to sitting for periods of time. Not every 4 year old is in the same place developmentally, and so you need to meet each student where they are at. In this case, a year off may do wonders and will prevent her from hating piano. Just because the father thinks it is best doesn't mean it is. He may end up going to another teacher, but you can't prevent that. Present your case to him as best you can, and insist on not teacher her until a year has passed. Then and only then, re-evaluate her yourself at that time before signing her up for lessons. Trust your instincts on this one!
_________________________
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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#940135 - 10/03/08 12:24 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7303
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
You're dealing with problems here which are above your pay grade, so to speak. The parents are not in agreement about their child's education, the child has figured it out, and is using this knowledge to get her way (which of course, is self-destructive, but that's another issue).

For your own protection, you need to discuss this with both parents at the same time. I would approach it somewhat as follows:

- Anna seems very bright, and she has figured out that you two do not fully agree on her education.

- This is a problem that teachers cannot solve for parents. You two need to discuss her music education further and how you're going to implement the discipline at home that is required for musical success.

- When you reach that point, I will be happy to meet with you again. If I have an opening, we can discuss lessons. Otherwise, I will be happy to refer you to another highly competent teacher.

But if she doesnt want to do it anymore, then why should she have to keep taking lessons? [/b]

Answer: It is not her decision to make; parents are responsible for children's education.
_________________________
"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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#940136 - 10/03/08 12:37 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Hey, teachers, I'm going to remind us all.....that we are responsible for everyone's physical safety when they are in our homes or in our separate studios. This is an insurance issue for us, as well as one of well-being concerns for our clients.

We have to have control over kids running around, climbing and sitting on the top of the piano (fortunately that hasn't been mentioned yet!), doing cartwheels, etc. We must be able to stop them.

I'd advise not allowing the student to set the pace. Once acting out, the student should be back to self control or dismissed for the day, spending "Time Out" or in general made aware of what is appropriate/not appropriate allowed/not allowed.

Some things are NOT allowed. If a child is physically acting out, you, as the piano teacher have absolutely no way to "get a word in edgewise". So don't talk too much, act now. It won't get better by itself unless you intervene.

Besides, I think early music participatory classes are great for those under 6, but, it's just not reasonable to put a small child on a piano bench and expect results in applied piano - Little Mozart - or not.

Child development will demonstrate that we are exceeding the box by having expectations for young ones that they are not yet wired for, have no attention span for.

This is my opinion, gained in 38 years of music teaching. It is better to wait for an opportune time of readiness as per an interview and an assessment profile.

The first teacher, and the first learning experiences at the piano must be quality lessons that set the pathway for continued learning.

During first lessons, the student is either being "groomed" or "doomed". Take your pick.

Things to think about!

Betty

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#940137 - 10/04/08 03:12 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4746
Loc: South Florida
My answer is simple.

I'm a piano teacher, not a warden or family counselor. It's my room, and I get to say when I will and will not teach anyone, of any age.

In such a situation I simply state that it is not working out for *me*, though frankly I usually see such a problem in the making when I do a trial lesson, which also gives me a way out, since a trial lesson gives either the parents or me the right to say that something does not appear to be working. \:\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#940138 - 10/04/08 05:04 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2845
Loc: UK.
If her dad insists on her taking lessons then he should teach her himself.

You could explain that the current situation is more likely to put her off for life. She is simply not ready for formal instruction. Pretty soon she will get bored with it and start to associate piano study as a mess around. It's very difficult to turn this round later on. The best thing the parents can do for her is to encourage and nurture a love of music. Listen to music with her, play musical games, sing with her, enrol her in group sessions where kids sing/dance/respond to and enjoy music. In a couple of years she will be begging for lessons and is more likely to take it seriously.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#940139 - 10/05/08 09:32 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Don't continue to teach this child. If Daddy wants to force her into piano when she is clearly not developmentally ready for it, let him inflict her on someone else. Your time is more valuable than to waste it on this kind of nonsense, and could be better spent with a REAL student or on literally anything else you choose.
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#940140 - 10/05/08 01:51 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA

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#940141 - 10/05/08 04:15 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
JeffBC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/04/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Haverhill, MA
4, as a rule, isn't too young. 4 might be too young for this child or her interests are elsewhere. My daughter has been attending the Yamaha owned and operated, Yamaha Music School in Lexington, MA ( http://www.ymsboston.com/ ) since she was 3. I cannot recommend the program highly enough.
_________________________
Kawai MP5 / Ivory Italian Grand
C.C. Harvey 52" Upright Grand
Yamaha M202 Console

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#940142 - 10/06/08 04:34 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
i really doubt that first kid on akira s link is 4 yrs old.

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#940143 - 10/06/08 05:13 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2845
Loc: UK.
The funny (or should that be sad?) thing is is that people watch these youtube videos and think that these are normal everyday 4 year olds.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#940144 - 10/06/08 02:06 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
 Quote:
The funny (or should that be sad?) thing is is that people watch these youtube videos and think that these are normal everyday 4 year olds.
Had all the teachers in the world all agreed 4 is too young, there'd be no videos to watch. \:\)

Should one make sweeping generalizations about what age is suitable to start, or does it really depend on the individual?

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#940145 - 10/06/08 04:28 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Kemerrit Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/08/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
Everyone is different. Some just "have it." For others it takes a little longer.

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#940146 - 10/07/08 04:18 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Akira:
 Quote:
4 is too young.
Really? I think these people might disagree . \:\) [/b]
:D

The problem is...most of these kids can't play anything worth listening to.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#940147 - 10/07/08 06:34 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2845
Loc: UK.
Akira, most of these kids are educated by their parents. They have to be. More than likely they are chained to the piano for hours every day from the moment they can toddle. It's pretty clear that the girl in question is not one of these kids.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#940148 - 10/07/08 11:04 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Jedi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/08
Posts: 25
Loc: Western Australia
I hate to break it to you, but you're grammar is terrible.

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#940149 - 10/07/08 06:09 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Kemerrit Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/08/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
who, me?

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#940150 - 10/08/08 08:09 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5901
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jedi:
I hate to break it to you, but you're grammar is terrible. [/b]
And so is your[/b] spelling \:D
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#940151 - 10/08/08 11:34 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Getting back to the original topic, a 4 year old who is acting out, and has parent(s) who want lessons, should start out with drums.

Drums are perfect for this child...the child gets rid of energy, learns rhythm, and you can truthfully tell the parent that drums and piano are both percussion instruments, which they are.

But really, how can you possibly teach anyone who chooses not learn, and instead runs around wildly?
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#940152 - 10/09/08 11:05 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jedi:
I hate to break it to you, but you're grammar is terrible. [/b]
I don't know to whom that was directed, but unintentional irony is funny in a sad sort of way.

\:\) \:\(

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#940153 - 10/12/08 03:57 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 832
Yes, there are a very few students who start at four and accomplish something. The question is, could they not wait until they are seven and accomplish the same thing, sometimes in far less time?

There is no reason to suggest they end up farther than the rest of us for all their early starting. I can't stand when I go to a concert of a fully grown adult who finds it necessary to state in their program that they began piano at such and such early age. Do they really think that head start kept them ahead all those years? Get over yourself and get on with interpreting the works of the great composers.

As for the original poster, perhaps you should consider if the stress of teaching a four year old is worth the money you're earning. Also, is it really worth the energy for the parents, teacher, and child when they have so many years ahead of them? Why all this impatience? Is the child diagnosed with some rare disease that necessitates such an early start?

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#940154 - 10/12/08 04:22 PM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Candyman:
Yes, there are a very few students who start at four and accomplish something. The question is, could they not wait until they are seven and accomplish the same thing, sometimes in far less time?

There is no reason to suggest they end up farther than the rest of us for all their early starting. I can't stand when I go to a concert of a fully grown adult who finds it necessary to state in their program that they began piano at such and such early age. Do they really think that head start kept them ahead all those years? Get over yourself and get on with interpreting the works of the great composers.

As for the original poster, perhaps you should consider if the stress of teaching a four year old is worth the money you're earning. Also, is it really worth the energy for the parents, teacher, and child when they have so many years ahead of them? Why all this impatience? Is the child diagnosed with some rare disease that necessitates such an early start? [/b]
Dang, "get over yourself" is pretty harsh!

To me, the whole point is that it does not take energy for a child at that age who is ready, willing and able—no more so than language acquisition. Waiting a few years makes all the difference in the world to the process.

I wrote this in another thread very recently ( "How young is too young????" )
 Quote:
Originally posted by sotto voce:
[A] toddler who has an interest is unquestionably ready to learn.

I believe there's a window of opportunity at this age during which musical knowledge can be acquired along with language in a way that's automatic and painless.

If a very young child is receptive, take advantage of it! The learning process is a lot easier when it's spontaneous than when it requires a conscious effort.[/b]
candyman, I'm curious what your personal experience is with this subject (as both a teacher and in your own early childhood).

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#940155 - 10/13/08 02:55 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4746
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Candyman:
Yes, there are a very few students who start at four and accomplish something. The question is, could they not wait until they are seven and accomplish the same thing, sometimes in far less time?
It seems to me that you are grouping two different kinds of kids together.

One group of kids is pushed to learn piano before they are ready.

The second group shows a precocious interest in music, and the exact time at which members of the second group are ready to start has to be considered on an individual basis.

While it is true that a four year-old will not make the same progress in three years (4-7) as a seven year-old (7-10), if the four year-old is ready to begin, s/he will still be "ahead of the game". I don't like to start before age six or seven unless I feel a child is ready and eager to begin, but I have one five year-old now who doing some of the things her eight year-old brother is doing, and that's a rather remarkable things to see.

As for adults bragging about when they started, that seems utterly ridiculous to me, if that is what is bothering you.

By the way, I was a very late starter, at age eight. I think I was hurt by not starting sooner. My grandmother was my first teacher, and she did not like starting kids who had not yet had fractions. The moments she started me, she said she realized she had made a mistake, that I would have been ready a year or two earlier, at least.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#940156 - 10/13/08 07:46 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
candyman, I knew another PW had spoken recently to the "window of opportunity" idea. The following was posted by Rich Galassini in this very recent thread :
 Quote:
♪ The “Window of Opportunity”: As a child’s brain develops, connections are being made between trillions of neurons. If the brain does not use some of these neurons, it begins to eliminate them. The richer the environment of the child, the more developed the pathways of the neurons. The most powerful period of this development for both verbal and musical abilities occurs from birth to about age nine. Although this does not mean that a child cannot learn music after that age, the child will probably not develop as great an ability as they would have been able to had they been exposed to music earlier.
As Gary said, not all children will benefit equally; those who are unwilling shouldn't be predicted to benefit at all. But in the right combination of circumstances, the benefit can be incalculably important.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#940157 - 10/13/08 08:22 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11561
Loc: Canada
That, and numerous other things, is indeed a theory.

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#940158 - 10/13/08 08:27 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
keystring, as a linguist you are surely familiar with the phenomenon of early childhood language acquisition as a singular process in our development that absolutely cannot be duplicated at any later point in life. That's not theoretical at all. For some people, music acquisition is analogous and happens in parallel.

Neither were my own experiences theoretical. In contradistinction to Gary, who was a "late" starter at eight, I was an early starter. I lived the theory, so my belief in it has personal resonance for me. \:\)

I continue to refer to it as "theory" only because I haven't researched it, and therefore don't have any empirical data from academicians to cite as a source authority.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#940159 - 10/13/08 08:44 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11561
Loc: Canada
I am familiar with the theory, but I don't think I agree with it totally for language acquisition - there are other factors - but am not an expert in music acquisition. There is also a problem with taking any theory and applying it too narrowly with insufficient imagination, and not allowing natural things to develop that we are not yet sufficiently aware of. My gut feeling in "early childhood education" as a whole, including "educational toys", is that we may be over-directing and narrowing something that would have developed had we left it alone or proceeded differently. It is a broad subject, and too large for a forum - probably best developed in a book. As far as academicians is concerned, the environment and process itself are limiting in thought and scope.

Just take the one example which is very simple - "perfect pitch testing" which is supposed to test whether you can recognize a given pitch as a pitch in and of itself. I received training last year, aimed in particular toward producing and recognizing so there would not be a drift. I have ended up with a strange side effect which I've been told is normal. If I hear any pitch from an object, instrument, or voice, I can go to an instrument I play and allow my fingers to go the place where that pitch will be found on the instrument. Somehow somewhere in body and unconscious mind I do have the knowledge of that pitch stored. Consistently for over a year the result has been 100% accurate. But if I try to name the pitch ahead of time, or if I try to consciously tell myself "This is Bb" and play it, I am invariably wrong. I can definitely recognize pitch as pitch. But any test that asks me to name a pitch would show that I cannot name pitches, and will then conclude that I cannot recognize pitches.

The academic system and other systems are useful tools, but like any system they are limited. My first insight into this was Pierce's "Crack in the Cosmic Egg". The next was the upbringing of my children.

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#940160 - 10/13/08 08:55 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Though its extrapolation to music may be theoretical, the unique nature of early childhood language acquisition isn't a theory. It's well settled that there are no cases in which someone deprived of language during that window of opportunity for its development ever achieved anything resembling the proficiency of a native speaker raised in a natural environment.

Likewise, are you aware of anyone who acquired a foreign language anytime after early childhood without the need for conscious learning, as opposed to the entirely natural and organic process that takes place during infancy?

And FWIW it's not a function of "early childhood education." What we're talking about here has nothing to do with pedagogy, but rather something that we are hard-wired for and simply happens automatically.

BTW, Rich didn't even qualify his statements as theoretical. Even though they mimic my own precise thoughts on the matter, he didn't get them from me! (And FWIW I'm not aware that anyone in that thread was dismissive or even skeptical of the idea, either.)

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#940161 - 10/13/08 09:46 AM Re: "Hate to break it to ya, But you're kid isnt Mozart!"
Less Rubato Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 266
Loc: Washington state via OH-IO
Kemerrit-

Do you have a parent stay for the duration of lesson? Sometimes that helps with the acting out, etc..

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