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#951499 - 10/24/06 07:53 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10363
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
OK btb, you've beaten the Dickens out of this. :p
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Grotrian 192 #156455

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

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#951500 - 10/24/06 08:44 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks P*D,
As you can see we've just attracted yet another
M'Choakumchild ... if only proud fathers would play more golf and leave the piano tuition of their offspring to the specialist.

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#951501 - 10/24/06 09:57 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10363
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I don't see why this has to be black and white. I'm a trade economist, so I surely understand the concept of comparative advantage. The lawyer hires the secretary to do certain tasks even if the lawyer can do those tasks faster and better herself, because the hours spent doing those secretarial tasks would generate less income than if she specialized in what she was relatively better at (being a lawyer). This is the standard "gains from trade" argument, but it is of limited utility here.

As a pianist, I'm as good as (or maybe even better than) the teachers I hire to teach my son. Thus I'm like the lawyer described above. And I do hire these teachers to teach my son. But the reasons have only a little to do with the gains from trade.

My goal is to provide my son with the opportunity to excel at music. We can measure that outcome with rather objective standards. Turning the process into drudgery a la Gradgrind or M'Choakumchild would not serve my ends, would it? I understand something about the psychology of my child and about the dynamics of my own family. I know that for my son an outside authority (a teacher) is useful as a motivator. But I also know that my son and I get along very well, perhaps better than many parents and children. He takes direction from me quite well (so far) and he knows that working with me has accelerated his learning trajectory. Moreover HE CARES about that trajectory. He's competitive by nature and he's a bit of an extravert.

If I left the musical education completely to the specialists I think he would be at least two years behind where he is now. He would probably be starting simple Mozart sonatas about now and his technique would be as rudimentary as most middle schoolers whose parents know nothing about music, but who keep their children plugging away. I respect those parents, and those kids have a chance to enjoy a lifetime relationship with great music. That's wonderful. Instead of leaving it to the specialists, I use some of my "leisure" time at home to supervise my son's practice, adjusting dynamics here and noting shoulder tension there ....adding to his store of technical knowhow and to his musical understanding.

He's certainly no prodigy as I have noted elsewhere. He's a perfectly normal well-adjusted kid who just happens to be approaching the highest level repertoire instead of struggling with intermediate works. And he LIKES this fact. If I had chosen to leave things to the specialists I believe things would have turned out differently. We'll never know, of course, because I did intervene. That's what parents do. They make decisions about their children's lives. We just muddle through hoping they're the right ones or that they do no damage if they're the wrong ones.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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

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#951502 - 10/24/06 10:25 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Here I am coming a bit late to this thread so here's my 2-cents worth. I think it is really great when parents have the knowledge to assist their children with their practice time. This can help reinforce the lessons, and as P*D pointed out, help accelerate the learing curve for the student.

Now as far as sight-reading at 7 years-old? Learning to read music, like learning anything else takes time, effort, maturity, and of course personality. If one 7 year-old can do it, this doesn't mean another can with the same ease.

This means that the child will need extra help from not only the teacher, but perhaps the parents too should the parents be capable of helping. In my case, my parents were fine artists not musicians, and I was left only to my abilities. My mom had about a year, and my dad a few months of music lessons, so they were no help at all when it came to helping me practice. What they did do, however, was to ensure that I did practice for a reasonable amount of time, and did it everyday.

One of the things the teacher can do to help the child sight-read is to teach the notes inside and out. I did this through writing lessons. I had a notebook of blank manuscript paper. I was given writing lessons every week for the first year or so. I would have to write out the names of notes that were placed on the staff, sometimes the note values, time signatures, key signatures, etc. After awhile this stuff became second-nature.

Having said this, I would not expect a seven year-old child to do this. This young lady is barely in first or second grade at this point. She really doesn't have the maturity (there are exceptions) or the attention span at this age. The sight-reading and note recognition exercises should happen much later, perhaps at 8 years when the child has had more formal reading lessons in school, and has developed a little more intellectually.

As usual, I'm probably way off in the deep end on this, but this comes from a little bit of teaching experience I've had as well as my own life's experience.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#951503 - 10/24/06 01:27 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I think maybe it would be good to clarify that, as in all areas of music, sightreading should be tailored to the age/level of the student. I start informally doing sightreading with my students within the first year of lessons. I don't see any point of leaving it out. I focus on note reading within their level, along with getting them to look at the direction the notes are moving and starting out with only steps, then adding skips and getting them to recognize the difference. With young students we are talking about two notes a step apart to start. I certainly wouldn't expect them to be able to sightread their songs. There are always going to be varying opinions on this depending on experiences. I have never had a 7 year old who couldn't handle learning the note names required for their music, or having problems learning to sightread two or three notes they should know well. In fact they usually use these ideas when learning their pieces. Everything in small steps. Realistically, if you don't believe in having students learn the basic principles to read music, along with all the other areas of course, from the beginning they are going to end up with a huge gap in their playing. Nothing makes a student more frusterated than having to go back and learn what they should already know.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951504 - 10/25/06 12:59 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Children learn to listen and speak before learning to read words.
Children should learn to listen and play an instrument before learning to read music.
The most natural and logical approach in my mind.
And parents should help, that is what parents are for.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951505 - 10/25/06 01:18 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi StephanieF,
Enjoyed your more tactful approach.

Poor little 7-year old Annie was deemed sub-par by the piano teacher for memorising ... at the cost of her sight-reading . Such insensitive judgment by a piano teacher deserves the boot.

It is during these primitive piano days that memorisation should be promoted ... that is, until memory is found to have limitations .
The pupils’s flagging memory is the opportune time to gently suggest the supportive role of sight-reading.

Nothing quite like a willing customer.

Hi P*D,
You fill the boots of Mr. Gradgrind rather well with comments like
“He takes direction from me quite well”.

If you boast being so fly at the piano why not compete with your son in the playing of a particular keyboard masterpiece?

Otherwise ... get out the golf clubs.


Hi John,
You are talking from a really high horse when you say of a 7-year old “Learning to read music, like learning anything else takes time, effort,
maturity, and of course personality.”

The child is playing with dolls and you mention factors relating to an old man ... time, effort, maturity, personality.

Strangely, you conclude with one of the neatest of summaries of the right tactics for little Annie which I heartily applaud ...

“The sight-reading and note recognition exercises should happen much later, perhaps at 8 years when the child has had more formal
reading lessons in school, and has developed a little more intellectually.”

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#951506 - 10/25/06 01:48 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Hi John,
You are talking from a really high horse when you say of a 7-year old “Learning to read music, like learning anything else takes time, effort,
maturity, and of course personality.”

The child is playing with dolls and you mention factors relating to an old man ... time, effort, maturity, personality.
[/b]
So... no mathematics then? No trying to teach the poor girl how to read and write? No vocabulary lessons? No social studies or science classes in school?

Just let her sit all day and play with her dolls, and she'll worry about going to school and learning all this hard academic stuff when she's an adult?
_________________________
Sam

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#951507 - 10/25/06 01:50 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Dithering.

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#951508 - 10/25/06 01:54 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Nu? So answer my question. Tell me why the academics are for children and music is way too hard.

Tell me why "time, effort, maturity, and personality" are "factors relating to an old man", and yet we have 7-year-old children sit for hours every day in school learning about math, science, reading, writing, grammar, and social studies... not to mention the homework (however small).
_________________________
Sam

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#951509 - 10/25/06 01:57 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
(...) I understand something about the psychology of my child and about the dynamics of my own family. I know that for my son an outside authority (a teacher) is useful as a motivator (...)

"If I left the musical education completely to the specialists I think he would be at least two years behind where he is now. He would probably be starting simple Mozart sonatas about now and his technique would be as rudimentary as most middle schoolers whose parents know nothing about music (...)

"Instead of leaving it to the specialists, I use some of my "leisure" time at home to supervise my son's practice (...)

"We'll never know, of course, because I did intervene. That's what parents do. They make decisions about their children's lives. [/b]
Yes.

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#951510 - 10/25/06 02:34 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Nu? So answer my question. Tell me why the academics are for children and music is way too hard.

Tell me why "time, effort, maturity, and personality" are "factors relating to an old man", and yet we have 7-year-old children sit for hours every day in school learning about math, science, reading, writing, grammar, and social studies... not to mention the homework (however small). [/b]
I see you are ignoring my question.

Some people like to say, "Well, kids aren't going to be professional musicians..."

So, tell me, btb...

Are most kids going to be physicists?

Are most kids going to be biologists?

Are most kids going to be historians?

Are most kids going to be poets?


Of course, this stuff is all important for a well-rounded education, even if we don't use all of it, and even if we eventually forget much of it.

Even if it takes hours of "time, effort, maturity, and personality" every day, even if the child is only 5 or 6 years old, and even if the child *hates* it.


But music -- that subject that used to be an academic (i.e. taught in the academy... up until 500 or so years ago it was equally ranked with mathematics and philosophy in the school curriculum) is *way* *too* *hard* and *not* *any* *fun* for young kids. Don't make them work at it! Just let them play with their dolls! And study mathematics!
_________________________
Sam

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#951511 - 10/25/06 02:52 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Sam, believe me you are wasting your time. Brian never answers questions directly. Instead he likes to post irrelevant quotes from old books to show us all how clever he is.

All this 'give the teacher the boot' stuff is ridiculous. Go back and read the original post. Show me where it says that Annie is deemed sub-par for memorising. Frank tells us that the teacher has experienced this problem with her own child. She is simply concerned that sight reading skills should not slip behind. Remember we are not able to hear her side of the story.

I am all for parental help and encouragement at home. It is the only way in which any student can make progress. It can, howeber, be counter productive if it isn't handled in the right way. I hate it when kids come to lessons with letter names of notes scribbled over the music by their well meaning parents. Spoon feeding them like this doesn't help. Good instruction is giving them the tools and skills to work things out for themselves. Yes of course they will benefit from demonstration and listening but you have to find a good balance.

I have a classic example which sticks in my mind:

A young girl wanted to take her grade 1 theory exam. We worked through practice questions and examples in the lesson and she nodded and told me she unerstood. Each week her homework came back to a high standard. She completed practice exam papers scoring over 90% in each one. Imagine my shock when her test result came back as a fail at 40%! So what had happened? Her well meaning musical parents had sat with her at home and answered the questions for her.

What Frank needs to do is talk to his daughters teacher about this matter. I am sure he will find that she welcomes his help in the right way. Annie is lucky to have musical parents, many kids don't have this luxury. Where is the benefit of the aural approach for these children? They end up stuck between lessons because no one can help them and they can not read well enough to work it out for themselves.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951512 - 10/25/06 04:26 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Frank III is paying me in Spanish doubloons to keep this thread alive!!

The issue at hand is 7 year old Annie whose sight-reading has been marked down by the piano teacher ... what to do?

What is special about Annie is her bonny independent spirit in saying to her parents that she would like them to get her started ...
“ but let her work on the music by herself all week”.

pianojerome doesn’t appreciate the limited scope which can be covered in a 30 minute piano lesson for a 7 year-old ... we must surely leave the teaching the 3Rs to the school.

It is hardly likely that the piano teacher will detect any leanings to become physicist, biologist, historian or poet.

Thanks for the oar ChrisH ... you obviously haven’t been moved by Dickens’ “Hard Times” ... thus your comment about the irrelevancy of the quotes.

Might I repeat my finding regarding the piano tuition of the illiterate “Small Fry” ... once heard composer Hoagy Carmichael play and sing this gem at the London Palladium ...
I play his music it at the drop of a hat!!

“It is during these primitive piano days that memorisation should be promoted ... that is, until memory is found to have limitations .
The pupils “ flagging memory is the opportune
time to gently suggest the supportive role of sight-reading.

Nothing quite like a willing customer.”

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#951513 - 10/25/06 09:33 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10363
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
 Quote:
Hi P*D,
You fill the boots of Mr. Gradgrind rather well with comments like “He takes direction from me quite well”.

If you boast being so fly at the piano why not compete with your son in the playing of a particular keyboard masterpiece?

Otherwise ... get out the golf clubs.
btb,

What I don't understand is why you choose to be perpetually smug and superior. Is this really meant to persuade me or to make me think? If it is merely humor, it fails.

By the way, parents who try to compete with their children usually fail at their most important task ...being loving and supportive.

Taking snippets out of context is a hoary old debators technique, but it is not useful among a group that wants to have a good intelligent conversation.

Like everyone else I come to these boards in part for entertainment, but I also come here because I do learn things. I learn about the instrument for one, and about playing and teaching. I can also offer ideas from my own profession and my own experience as a buyer, an amateur player, and as a parent.

I fail to see what your point is ...beyond a simple assertion (with little to no argument) that a student shouldn't start reading music until they are older. OK, this is a fairly small point about which reasonable people can disagree. Make a clear argument and we can chew on it.

I cannot at all understand why you then make fun of everyone who suggests that parents should work with their children. Do you really believe that parents should stay completely out of the education of their children? Leave it completely to elementary school teachers? We have seen the evidence of what that can do in the US ...children showing up to kindergarten not knowing the words to describe colors ...having absolutely no readiness to learn because parents largely ignored them for the first five years of their lives. These are the nightmare children to elementary school teachers. They are the ones who with high probability wind up two or more years behind their grade level in reading by age ten and who disproportionately drop out of school during high school. The home environment for them is completely un-intellectual and unstimulating.

Many parents read to their children, teach them letters, then phonics, and then basic reading skills. Many children soak it up willingly and eagerly. These parents are not Gradgrinds pushing their children's faces into meaningless books of irrelevant and boring facts, all the while depriving them of the joys of carefree childhood. I don't know why your world is so black and white on this. Yes, there is a line to be drawn between creating a stimulating learning environment for children and pushing children to excel for the gratification of the parent's ego. Regaling us with quotes from 19th century Brit Lit really doesn't advance the ball.

We await your next erudite insult.

Cheers,

David F
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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

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#951514 - 10/25/06 10:06 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Piano Buff: When exactly do you start incorporating note names into lessons, and what books have you found that let you teach beginners without learning this? All the ones I have used start out slowly, but do get into basic note names by half way through the first book. Also, do you find your students have get frusterated when they do have to learn to read music? I have inherited children who, after a year or two of lessons really fought actually learning to read music. I am talking about 10 or 12 year olds here. Like I said, I have never had a problem with a 7 year old learning basic note reading, although I do not focus just on that. Here 7 year olds are reading basic words, but I am always looking for better ways to help my 5 year olds who can't be expected to read music (it's sad to say many of them don't even know the alphabet!). For some reason most of the methods geared towards young beginners still have the same expectation even though they move at a slightly slower rate. I would love to hear of a book series that supports your philosophy.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951515 - 10/25/06 10:26 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi P*D,
Please don’t see the Gradgrind quote as an insult ... just a gentle nudge to persuade you to allow your son to blossom on his own ... take a leaf out of independent little Annie’s book ... in saying to her parents that she would like them to get her started ...
“ but let her work on the music by herself all week”.

By the way ... on your point of the importance of parents reading to their children ... my fondest memory of my father is sitting around a winter family fire hearth with four children at his feet ... breathlessly taking in every word ...
of his larger-than-life reading of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.
Any sleepy eyes spelt the "to bed" closing of the book ... can still remember pinching my sleepyhead youngest brother to make sure of hearing just one more page about Tom and Becky in the cave ... sheer terror at the thought of Injun Joe.

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#951516 - 10/25/06 10:57 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
btb,
I usually try to understand where another is coming from and see the validity in and respect what another is saying even if I disagree. If I don't understand where someone is coming from I ask for clarification. I have stayed out of the debate or whatever you wan't to call it because I can't even begin to agree or disagree with you, support your opinions, debate your view, or try to see your side because I can't understand your writing style. I can't tell from your choice of wording what your view really is. I'm in the dark to some extent on this thread as I don't understand what your view is.

I really don't have the time or patience to read between the lines. For my lack of intellegence to decipher your poetic style of writing, could you please spell your point out concisely in plain, simple wording. I would really like to understand your view.

Otherwise I'll leave you to your debating and sit here in blissful ignorance.

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#951517 - 10/25/06 11:25 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10363
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
btb,

Point taken! And I would agree that once a parent has set themselves up as their child's private unpaid tutor that role can take on a negative life. The kid does have to blossom on his or her own. I just think that the blossoming can still take place even while the parent offers tips and suggestions. I have withdrawn somewhat from the sous-teacher role as he has matured, but I haven't yet disappeared completely.

But in the case at hand, a seven year old can probably benefit from more direction than a ten year old or a thirteen year old.

I would agree, however, with Chris that the parents' intervention can be positively destructive. We all know stories of parents doing their children's work for them on through middle school and even into high school. The kids then have a brutal time -- or fail completely -- until they develop all the requisite independence.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

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

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#951518 - 10/25/06 11:31 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
It's funny, but for a piano teachers forum there seem to be a few parents here who never seem to have anything but critisism for piano teachers. Believe it or not we want to do what is best for our students. I love learning from what parents say and parents are vital to their childrens success. But really, why are some of you paying a teacher when you think you do a better job yourself? If you have radically different ideas/standards that the teacher it might be better to find a teacher whose ideas you agree with. Parents and teachers need to work together. That is the beauty about having many teachers with different teaching styles and methods. Same with why bother asking for advice or opinions from other teachers on the board if you are not going to at least listen and respect their opinion.

Sorry everyone, this thread is getting to me.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951519 - 10/25/06 03:42 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
I would like to address the initial question about the 7 year old and sightreading concerns. I teach piano to children as young as 4 1/2. These are children who many times don't even know their alphabet, let alone how to read. I would prefer a child who has an ear for music and may be weak on sightreading, than one who can read the notes fluently on the page but cannot play by ear. I believe in developing the ear first, then the eyes.

Some children are visual learners, some are aural. These differences become more pronounced in elementary school when students have to take written tests. Those who are more visual will do well, while others will flounder. Give the aural child the same test verbally and he will most likely do fine. But alas, our public school system is not designed to meet the individual needs of every student (but that's another topic).

A 7 year old would most likely be in 2nd grade and just learning how to read, so that fact that she is not a strong sightreader shouldn't be too worrisome at this point. There are many activities and books that will help strengthen this skill. She may, however, be an aural learner. I would definitely do ear training activities to build that ability as well.

I know countless number of adults (many are parents of students), who had years of lessons and yet cannot sit down to play a song without having the music in front of them. How sad.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#951520 - 10/25/06 11:05 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
olenka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/06
Posts: 83
Loc: Houston
This is all the truth about music reading:
http://www.softmozart.com/Site/article.php?article=45
_________________________
Co-creator of 'Soft Way to Mozart' system of teaching music and piano.

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#951521 - 10/26/06 03:24 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Hi P*D,
Please don’t see the Gradgrind quote as an insult ... just a gentle nudge to persuade you to allow your son to blossom on his own ... take a leaf out of independent little Annie’s book ... in saying to her parents that she would like them to get her started ...
“ but let her work on the music by herself all week”.

By the way ... on your point of the importance of parents reading to their children ... my fondest memory of my father is sitting around a winter family fire hearth with four children at his feet ... breathlessly taking in every word ...
of his larger-than-life reading of Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.
Any sleepy eyes spelt the "to bed" closing of the book ... can still remember pinching my sleepyhead youngest brother to make sure of hearing just one more page about Tom and Becky in the cave ... sheer terror at the thought of Injun Joe. [/b]
I completely see where you are coming from btb.
This is the way we've raised our children. It is call "unschooling." Have you heard of John Holt? Or John Gatto? Both past educators that have discovered that the educational system is dumbing our children down. They are home school advocates, saying let children discover on their own. There is also Waldorf education too that has an approach geared toward the natural development of the child.
With that being said, when I was 5 years old, my mom enrolled me into a music class, much like how Chris teaches. I loved it! I was not forced to read music, it was merely presented to me. I then started private piano lessons where I was forced to read music and it was horrorfying to say the least.
Make with it as you will, just my experience.

By the way our son, who is now 16 did not learn to read fluently on his own until age 11!! He has read more books in the past 5 years than I have literally read in my lifetime. He is an awesome writer too. Writes screen plays as well as novels. He has an excellent command on the English language and will be graduating from high school a year early to attend college next year. I'm not boasting, I'm just saying you do not need a formal education to succeed. Formal education can do the exact opposite, for some, if you are not careful and wise.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951522 - 10/26/06 03:55 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by StephanieF:
Piano Buff: When exactly do you start incorporating note names into lessons, and what books have you found that let you teach beginners without learning this? All the ones I have used start out slowly, but do get into basic note names by half way through the first book. Also, do you find your students have get frusterated when they do have to learn to read music? I have inherited children who, after a year or two of lessons really fought actually learning to read music. I am talking about 10 or 12 year olds here. Like I said, I have never had a problem with a 7 year old learning basic note reading, although I do not focus just on that. Here 7 year olds are reading basic words, but I am always looking for better ways to help my 5 year olds who can't be expected to read music (it's sad to say many of them don't even know the alphabet!). For some reason most of the methods geared towards young beginners still have the same expectation even though they move at a slightly slower rate. I would love to hear of a book series that supports your philosophy. [/b]
Hi Stephanie,
I teach using the Suzuki method. Book One I teach completely by ear and demonstration. I have two grand pianos side by side. My student sits at one, I at the other. The parents main responsibility is to play the recording of Book 1 pieces at home as background music everyday, more than this is even better. The child naturally absorbs what is being played. The child then comes to their lesson and I teach them what they have listened too. First we sing it in solfege and we then learn it on the piano. My focus is teaching them correct technique for a beautiful natural tone. This is easy because they are not distracted by reading music. It is pure listening. They start to learn letter names half way through Book 1, by teaching them pentachord patterns and I V7 I chord progressions in all keys major and minor. By then their techinique is pretty solid and the pentachord patterns develop it even more. They also know their solfege which I think is very important, more important than letter names really.
No, they do not at all get frustrated when learning to read because they have already played the notes and know them so well. By the way I do refer to the music *after* learning by ear. Not making a big deal out of it, just showng them what it looks like; me singing and pointing to the notes. So by the time they start to learn they know "Do" which is the starting note in the first piece of their reading book and it just then steps up the ladder to "Re" and so on. The reading book I use is called Methode Rose and correlates very well with the Suzuki method.

As far as books on the subject there are many great ones out:

Sensibility and Education (my favorite)
My Thought on the Suzuki Piano School
My Thoughts on Piano Technique
all by Dr. Haruko Kataoka (piano)

Nurtured by Love
by Dr. Schiniki Suzuki

You can purchase them at ymonline.com

or maybe amazon.com might carry them too.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#951523 - 10/26/06 05:48 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Thanks, Piano Buff. I am seriously considering putting my son is Suzuki when he is old enough. Might try violin first just because of they have the smaller sized violin.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951524 - 10/27/06 03:47 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by olenka:
This is all the truth about music reading:
http://www.softmozart.com/Site/article.php?article=45 [/b]
Olenka, could you provide us with any more information? Who wrote this article? How did you come across it? What are your views on this?

I found the article very interesting. I would agree with nearly all of what is said. It is criminal that this musical illiteracy exists when there is absolutely no need for it. Every child could learn to read, write and understand music. There is nothing wrong with conventional music notation and theory. The key is to present it to children in ways they can understand and enjoy. The only thing I would not agree with is that this can only be done through the piano. The article talks about the importance of developing vocal and aural skills. This can then lead to an understanding of notation. Why do you need a piano to do this? If, as it says, "it is possible to learn these skills in group settings in public schools" then how does playing the piano help? Your insight and experience with the 'Soft-Mozart' system would be most welcome.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951525 - 10/27/06 05:27 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Singing is also a good way to teach theory and musicianship.

But the piano is one of the few "harmonic" instruments. On other instruments, you can only play one or two notes at a time (on string and some percussions, ok, you can play maybe 3 or 4 at a time).

On the piano, you can play 10 notes at a time, and the range is far greater than most of the other western instruments. So the piano is a *great* instrument to use for learning theory and musicianship, because you can really see and hear and play all the harmonies and so forth.

That's probably why all music students at many music schools are required to do piano classes.
_________________________
Sam

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#951526 - 10/28/06 04:37 AM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Sam, I would fully agree that the piano is one of the best instruments for teaching theory. The problem is that it isn't possible to allow every child at school access to a piano. In a class of 30 kids you can't have 30 pianos or even 30 keyboards. Piano lessons are for the few who can afford to pay for private lessons. Also, what about the people who want to learn other instruments and are not interested in the piano? Surely they deserve to be musically literate also.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#951527 - 10/28/06 06:34 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
Chris, in Waldorf-schools in Denmark every child is taught to play violin.

How many schools can't afford computers to all and everybody?

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#951528 - 10/28/06 10:24 PM Re: Would like your thoughts about children and sightreading
Frank III Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 310
Loc: Spring Lake, MI
I'm amazed at the length of this thread (thanks btb ;\) ). Stephanie, Piano Dad, Chris H, Sarabande, and all - you've made many excellent and helpful points! Thanks again \:\)

Cheers,
_________________________
Frank III

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