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#953309 - 03/04/08 01:09 AM Do your students enjoy lessons?
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I've only been teaching for a little over a year and I have 2 piano students, both are 12 yr. old boys and transfers from the same teacher. Neither one of them seems to really enjoy lessons and one of them always complains that it's "too hard" to do things like counting out loud while playing. His progress is very slow because he is so focused on only playing the notes, while ignoring rhythm and dynamics. I've pushed him and he does eventually learn pieces and enjoys playing them, but the process is like pulling teeth! My other student is very smart and he catches on quickly, but I don't think he is really enjoying the music. He brought a popular song to me because he wanted to learn it, but he is not advanced enough to play the difficult rhythms.

How do I make playing the piano more enjoyable for them? I want them to learn songs they like, without ignoring the classics, theory, and all the things I believe it takes to become a good pianist.

Are some students just better off playing whatever they want, without expecting much progress in their knowledge and skills? If I do that, I feel like I'm robbing them of a musical education.

Thoughts?
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#953310 - 03/04/08 03:59 AM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi lana-lang,

You might just be trying too hard ... when you have expanded your teaching numbers to 20 pupils you will have then gained a valuable perspective of what the teacher’s role is all about ... you are on the right track in using a favourite piece of music as the motivational carrot for enjoyable progress ... if you want to see an extra spark in the "smart" student ... go along with his popular song and steadily support his attempts to master the so-called difficult rhythms.

The heart of every pupil’s mission is the wish to play the piano ... all the scales and theory is just so much dull baggage ... a favourite piece makes all the uphill of sight-reading, fingering and practice (to develop muscle and aural memory) ... that much worth while.

The teacher’s mission is not to educate the pupil ... but to teach them how to play the piano ... this is the secret to a happy school.

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#953311 - 03/04/08 09:57 AM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10753
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I recommend that you give them each a choice in songs. If the one came to you with popular music, then that is a big hint: give me something I like!

What can really be fun and will help them with er training and theory, is have them pick a tune they want to learn how to play. It can be *anything*. Then help them learn the melody by ear. Have them write down the melody, which will force them to think of the rhythms, scale degrees, and intervals (help them start in a decent key signature though \:D ). Then have them figure out what chords would go well with it. Most popular tunes deal with only I IV and V7 chords, so they need not be too advanced in their knowledge of theory. Once they figure this out, you can help them with different LH accompaniments that they can expand the chords into. If you want to go an extra step, then you can have them put the song into Finale or some other music notation software and print it out with their name as the Arranger! They really love doing this, because they pick the music, and they will practice playing it because they really want to learn it. They will be applying their theory and they will realize how important it is.

One last thing, if that student brought you a popular song, can you find a simpler arrangement for him to do? There are plenty of easy piano arrangements out there.
_________________________
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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#953312 - 03/04/08 11:59 AM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by lana_lang:
He brought a popular song to me because he wanted to learn it, but he is not advanced enough to play the difficult rhythms.
[/b]
If you asked him to sing the song I'm sure the rhyhtms would be perfect. Maybe you just need to simplify the accompaniment.

Speak to the parents. Suggest music which they will enjoy. You can teach nearly all the technique and theory they need through pop/jazz/boogie etc.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#953313 - 03/04/08 12:50 PM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
Karisofia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 201
Loc: Wisconsin
I would probably let him play the song even if it didn't come out right. We'd work to make it easy enough that he was pleased with it. This would be on the condition that his regular lesson material was prepared as well. That way he gets the idea that if he "eats his veggies, dessert will come."
_________________________
Private Teacher
Member MTNA, WMTA, CVMTA
Local Association President
The Achievement Program Center Representative

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#953314 - 03/04/08 01:02 PM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
lana_lang,

From what you are saying about your students, I think they may have missed some of the basic skills in early beginner lessons and do not have rhythm and possible fingering incorporated as a step through which they must think to be able to play a keyboard note. It's all based on thinking and fingering impulses and durations as well as the dynamics and touch of it. Dynamics and touch can be learned over time, however the note recognition from the music staff must make sense to find a keyboard notes - exact within a register, then a finger impulse to a specific finger(s), and a duration, before moving on in a steady tempo to the next beat.

I would guess that he also has trouble with the steady beat. If having any trouble with reading and processing the above, he is certainly not ready to do accidentals.

This needs to be corrected.

Working through pedagogy books yourself will help provide a path to the concepts and the order in which you decide to teach component parts of musicianship.

I understand you to say you have not started any of your own students yet. You need to prepare now to do that if you haven't already.

Asking questions here is a good way to get any help you might need.

Betty

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#953315 - 03/04/08 09:22 PM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
lana_lang Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 45
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
From what you are saying about your students, I think they may have missed some of the basic skills in early beginner lessons and do not have rhythm and possible fingering incorporated as a step through which they must think to be able to play a keyboard note. [/b]
This is very true. The previous teacher focused more on just hitting the correct keys, and never forced these boys to polish their pieces. I'm looking forward to teaching some beginners of my own so I can get them on the right path from the start. I've already thought about what I would teach beginning students, and in a way, I think it would be easier to teach beginners rather than correct bad habits of transfer students. The two students I have now are sort of my "guinea pigs" if you will. I wanted to get a feel for teaching piano before I took on a lot of students.
_________________________
part-time piano teacher for 1.5 years

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#953316 - 03/04/08 10:08 PM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Asking a student if he enjoys class is a loaded question. Of course he does. - Anon.

IMHO, if you're excited about teaching, and enthusiastic about your student and what he's learning, it's infectious.
_________________________
"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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#953317 - 03/06/08 09:43 PM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Rather than guess, why not simply ask them what they like or dislike about their piano lessons. It is difficult to find a solution, if one does not know what the problem is.

By the way, I can't say I enjoy my lessons. I think gratified might be a better word.

I don't enjoy practice either. Its actually more like work. I sure wish this was explained to me before I started taking lessons.

I'm just kidding around, by the way. \:\)

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#953318 - 03/07/08 03:05 PM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Karisofia:
I would probably let him play the song even if it didn't come out right. We'd work to make it easy enough that he was pleased with it. This would be on the condition that his regular lesson material was prepared as well. That way he gets the idea that if he "eats his veggies, dessert will come." [/b]
There's no reason the 'song' can't be the main course.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#953319 - 03/08/08 01:41 AM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Bravo klutz!

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#953320 - 03/08/08 01:43 AM Re: Do your students enjoy lessons?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Bon appetite, Sir btb!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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