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#956712 - 05/23/08 10:33 AM Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
I have a student transfered to me, due to my colleague who was going overseas...she is to sit for her Grade 3 ABRSM this coming July...

Her history with music so far :
1. Registered for Grade 3 ABRSM exam in year 2007, but made a withdraw, under firm request of her ex-teacher, as she was not prepared...

2. Have been playing NOTHING except her 3 exam repertoires for 2 and half years...

Problem :
There is no expression whatsoever in her playing...she does not curve her fingers...and her hands are lazy (leaning on the piano, and dragging it)...

I have tried explaining expression to her...the difference of mp and mf...but even with her best efforts, it sounds the same...I tried to give her a picture...but it doesn't get through...she is just playing through the notes...

What is worst, the fact that she has played her pieces for so long, she is doing everything in auto-mode...which means, it is difficult for her to change...

I'm not sure what I must do...if I go back to the basics of getting her to curve her fingers so that her sound is clearer, she will lose time, which she already does not have...if I get her to work on expressions, the fact that she is playing with 'banana fingers' will become her disability...

and her exam being so near, just freaks me out!!...

Any advice would be appreciated...thanks a lot
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956713 - 05/23/08 10:45 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I'm a student, so I shouldn't be offering any advice, but for what its worth...

I find that a voice in my ear helps with dynamics. That voice, of course, is my teacher. As I am playing the music, he sometimes helps to prepare me for upcoming dynamics ("coming up, big finish," "get ready for stacatto passage," "more legato," "louder, louder, louder (crescendo)").

I suppose he could have sat their quietly, silently thinking "that piece was a dead fish," but can see he wants to "make sure" I see, assimilate, comprehend and execute the required dynamics.

I also find it helpful to "hear" the difference. Sometimes I believe I "have" executed the appropriate dynamics, only to find my teacher doesn't agree. Maybe I don't hear it. Maybe I don't listen carefully enough. Maybe I don't understand it. The reasons could be many.

On measures that I have not executed the proper dynamics, I always, "Play it for me.". He does. Then I say, "Now, play it how I[/b] played it." He does. I listen carefully to see if I can tell the difference. If I can't, we repeat the process until I do. Maybe your student isn't assertive enough to do this, so I guess its up to you to take the lead. I think it is through this process that the student can truly understand the nature of thier shortcomings.

To simply tell a student "more dynamics" is like pushing a beginning swimmer off the deep end and saying "just swim." I think the solution to the problem begins with a deep understanding of what it is. Do everything you can to accomplish that goal first, and I think you'll likely make some progress.

Hope this student perspective helps. \:\)

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#956714 - 05/23/08 10:50 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
I am not a teacher, but a parent. Perhaps consider this: Is there a song this student likes? Just for fun? What is her favorite pop song or folk song, or religious song, etc? Find music this student loves and try demonstrating the techniques with that. The student should hear and see how her method is unmusical if applied to a song she likes. Must the student take the exam this July? with such a lack of enthusiasm?

Edit added: Is the student being pressured by parents? Fearing failure? Not practicing enough? Not understanding importance of curved fingers or just doesn't care to try?

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#956715 - 05/23/08 10:55 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
Hi, Akira...thanks for your input...

I guess I was rushing through my post, I didn't put in all the details...I have done, as your teacher has...both 'voice' and 'hearing', for this student of mine...as this was what my piano teacher has done with me as well...

From instructing her, while she is playing the piece (and she tries, but the minute I don't say anything, she is back to square one)...to playing it for her...I'm not saying that there isn't any improvement...there is...the SLIGHTEST improvement, which then, I adviced her to go home and work at it...

She comes back the next lesson, not having practice piano the whole week...and play the same thing, with the same monotonous expression...as if we have never talked on expressions before...and I end up having to repeat myself...

I have an idea what to do...to tear the music apart, and guide her bar by bar...but time isn't on my side...in fact, now that I come to think of it, it is really the time factor, that is bothering me the most now...
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956716 - 05/23/08 11:01 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
Dear guest1013,

yes, that could be a route I would take, if I had this student one year in advance, so that I have sufficient time to prepare her for the exams...

But at the moment, I'm not sure if I could afford that time...well, I can...if I forgo the rest of my students and concentrate solely on her...

If I had a choice, I would take her off the exam...but she has already been taken off the exam twice...I would rather that she get on with it, and put it behind her...and start afresh...AFTER the exam...

*her exam wasn't of her choice but her parents...and because her parents are too busy to even step down of the car, for a short briefing...I never had the time to really share with them my concern...*
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956717 - 05/23/08 11:09 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
If I had a choice, I would take her off the exam...but she has already been taken off the exam twice...I would rather that she get on with it, and put it behind her...and start afresh...AFTER the exam...
This was my thought as a student. I had a change of attitude and goals a few years ago and my playing has undergone a revamping after consulting with my teacher. If I play anything from "before", the tendency is for some of the old habits to be there too. They are engrained in the piece.

These pieces must be past stale and a dreadful bore by now. You also don't know how this student was prepare by the previous teacher and what practicing habits she acquired.

If I were in the shoes of this student, having the maturity of an adult, I would consider the exam a write-off. I would do my best to get through it but I would know that I can't do any real work until it is over with. I would also know that the circumstances of the exam will not allow me to achieve what I could achieve, and that how I'm playing doesn't reflect my true potential. Unfortunately a young student will not know that so the present impasse is discouraging and not very motivating.

What I don't like about exams is that you are preparing for the exam's requirements, and not for what you yourself need to strengthen.

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#956718 - 05/23/08 11:13 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lessajinomoto:
Problem :
There is no expression whatsoever in her playing...she does not curve her fingers...and her hands are lazy (leaning on the piano, and dragging it)...

I have tried explaining expression to her...the difference of mp and mf...but even with her best efforts, it sounds the same...I tried to give her a picture...but it doesn't get through...she is just playing through the notes...
[/b]
Why don't you join us in the Lister-Sink thread?
I think it can help. One of the immediate improvement I have seen with the method is the precise control of piano and forte and the natural use of rounded fingers without holding the hand in place with tension.

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#956719 - 05/23/08 11:40 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Lessajinomoto, If the student is not practicing, I don't know how your best efforts will get her to pass the exam. Can you offer her some small incentives to practice each week? Hold out promise of interesting music she can pick after the exam is completed? The student is cheating herself by not practicing and giving her best effort. You believe she can make music, somehow the student has to believe that she can if she just follows your teaching. It is a chance for a new beginning with you after the exam. Could you make audio or videotape of your instructions for her practice, for her to refer to at home?

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#956720 - 05/23/08 12:06 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
Dear KeyString,
Yes, that makes a lot more sense, starting anew again, once the exam is over...I guess I'm just slightly pressured by the fact that I really want her to do well...not just pass through the exam...I'll have to give my best shot, and keep moving forward...

Dear Danny,
Where is the Lister-Sink thread?...thanks for your suggestion...

Dear Guest1013,
"The student is cheating herself"...I just told her that today...she smiled...*sigh*...hmmm...well, I guess I could consider giving her incentives...

I have WRITTEN IN DETAIL, all my instructions...BAR BY BAR...on how to practice, and what...even to the point of writing out a schedule for her to follow...till now, this notebook still looks new and untouched...

Maybe a video would help...but that would take DOUBLE the effort from me!!...*groan*...

The sacrifices that one teacher has to go through...
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956721 - 05/23/08 12:08 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
Guest1013, regarding your earlier post on this topic...if you ask me, it is more like 'she doesn't care to try' attitude...

which bugs me at times...

I guess it is the saying that goes...

'you can pull the thirsty donkey to a lake, but you can't make it drink the water'
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956722 - 05/23/08 12:30 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Certainly, learning is a two-part effort.

The teacher does everything they can to bring out the best in a student.

The student does their part to do the best they can.

If either fails, the collective effort will fail (to some degree).

The assessment I believe you're struggling with is, "Which part failing?" Is it you, or is it her?

I think if you've done everything within your power and tried as many things you can think of to bring out the best in your student, you've done your part.

I think you need to also consider that its a possibility that the student may, in fact, be trying her best, but simply doesn't have it within her. But I think before jumping to that conclusion, you need to be convinced she really is giving it her all.

Is she?

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#956723 - 05/23/08 12:58 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
liszt's pinky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/08
Posts: 64
I am not a teacher . I hope it is OK to add something though. Kids are incredibly crafty. It sounds like her past behavior "rewarded" her from having to go through with the exam. She's likely acting the same way thinking it'll yield the same results.

I think the bigger and more important lesson this child needs to learn is that apathy does not go rewarded. We struggle with this with my son almost daily.
You may not think it, but I'd almost bet that more of what you're saying to her is sinking in than you realize. Keep your chin up but don't give up!

Best of luck.

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#956724 - 05/23/08 01:05 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Lessajinomoto, I don't mean to suggest more work for you, just tape a portion of your lesson was my thought. It sounds like the parents don't make sure the student is taking steps for success on a daily or weekly basis. Somehow the student needs to set small weekly goals and you and she celebrate when she achieves it. Maybe just pick the curved fingers, and the rest will follow as Danny says.

Has there been so much negative nagging and criticism from the parents and the last teacher? Somehow there must be a way for student to apply herself to make music. Then she can hold her head up, this is the best she can do for now but also see progress and be praised for effective practicing.

Good luck! What an opportunity for a breakthrough with this student, I am sure this attitude is affecting her life and relationship with the parents.

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#956725 - 05/23/08 01:36 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
.

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#956726 - 05/23/08 01:59 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
liszt's pinky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/08
Posts: 64
Keystring--you are lucky indeed!

My son is not a bad kid..he's just figuring out ( at 6) what certain behaviors will get for him. It's a basic psychological tenet-- "I do this, I get this".

I think what I wrote has some merit. I am obviviously not a teacher but I do have a degree in psychology. Rebellion is quite commom in most children.

It bothers me too that the parents of this child aren't more involved. Sounds like Lessajinomoto is on the front line of this with no real help. My heart goes out to her.

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#956727 - 05/23/08 02:22 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
As liszt's pinky brings up, I would think that the indifference, apathy, and no or little response is a learned behavior, or acquired to avoid demands made on her/him - this is a way of maintaining control in my mind.

If you could turn her on to the beauty of music, watching videos of other students (children and young adults)striving, seeking and finding success, she might step up to the challenge.

If you could get smiles and good humor from her, she would be in better frame of mind to collaborate with your smiling face and good humor.

If you could verbalize that pianists are always making progress - it's their job - maybe she could feel that in the future she will have the opportunity to use the time to become better and better. Not to rest on what she knows to date.

It sounds like self sabotage on her part. However, things could change, i think, if she could discover what she is missing.

Rebellion - passive aggressiveness - is a nasty number - because it works for them so well.

I would not enter her in any exams, contests until it was completely her idea to do so, and she was willing to do the work until she excelled.

In my mind she is not a candidate for that route.

Try talking her to about "Time" and "Effort" and "Pursuit" and "Attitude and Characterists of a Successful Piano Student". Make up your own list of what you want her to learn about "change" and "attitude" that will encourage her to make changes.

How old this person is makes a difference in how you would address the problem. I would not let her sit on the bench and do the same things over and over. You have yourself a stand off. I would confront it away from the piano too, not only on the bench.

Betty

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#956728 - 05/23/08 05:24 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
I appreciate what lizstspinky and Betty have written about rebellion, it reminds me that I was once young and rebellious and part of it involved not practicing the piano. It is a shame that she has learned to get what she wants from not practicing. I found that I had to comply with expectations to practice, to give a fair effort, or else I could not pursue other hobbies or interests until I had put my practice time in... But I was also blessed with a grandmother who loved to play the piano and her joy was infectious and also instrumental in breaking down my rebellion. Expectations, consequences, enjoyment all tied in.

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#956729 - 05/23/08 05:36 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
I invite those who are blaming this child for rebelliousness, and see apathy, which is a form of deep and profound discouragement and helplesness, to read the first post carefully. Look at the background. Look what this girl has been made to do for 2 1/2 years. Extrapolate and imagine. See the fact that a parent is insisting on an action that the teacher considers unnecessary and maybe harmful - yet who is the expert in pedagogy, the parent? And how long has this been going on with the previous teacher, and what has been going on?

There are a lot of things I am not saying.

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#956730 - 05/23/08 05:55 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Well I also see keystring's point. This student is asked to practice the same songs for more than two years? Is that cruel? With little improvement in the required pieces? Yes, I can imagine the student feeling upset and bored and not listened to by the teacher or parents.... there is a lot more to this situation.

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#956731 - 05/23/08 07:04 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Even though my playing and technique are now in decent form on my main instrument, if I go back to music from my time of struggling, I lose ground and play closer to when I did then. It's embedded in the music itself. Also, if you have struggled for that long (in case she has) this becomes the what you think the musical experience is. You have no other experience - the context is still the same .....

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#956732 - 05/23/08 07:40 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lessajinomoto:
Dear Danny,
Where is the Lister-Sink thread?...thanks for your suggestion...[/b]
You can find it in the Pianist Corner
You might also just message me if you want

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#956733 - 05/23/08 07:43 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

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

Exactly what lesson materials are we talking about in the last 2 and a half years?

How many pieces? What composers?

I'm not sure now that I understood the first post then if keystring is correct in her comments. I understood the problem to be the techniques and practicing of any assignment to date.

Let's hear the basics again and the age of the student and the total number of years in study with the 2 teachers.

Please.

Betty

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#956734 - 05/23/08 07:49 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
 Quote:
Originally posted by liszt's pinky:
Rebellion is quite commom in most children.
[/b]
Rebellion is quite common in all genuinely oppressed people and lucky them it is also what saves their life more often than note. The moment we lose the ability to rebel we've become less than humans and less than hamsters spinning the wheel.

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#956735 - 05/23/08 08:30 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
Hi everyone...I'm sorry if I didn't put things in detail...

This student of mine is a 14 year old gal...she started piano with her ex-piano teacher (the one before me) from beginner till Grade 3 (that was 5 years ago)...and was transfered to me, just less than a month ago...

Her pieces chosen for her are from the Grade 3 ABRSM Syllabus...
1) Allegretto by Turk
2) Chant de la Creuse by C. Frank
3) Round dance : No 17 by Bela Bartok

So far, she has successfully MEMORIZED the pieces (which isn't surprising, as those 3 songs were the only pieces she did for the past 2 and half years)..but yet, there is lack of expression...and passion as well...

She wasn't not very responsive to my teaching...So far, I have...
1) demonstrated to her, phrase by phrase how the piece could sound
2) written instructions to approach passages, IN DETAIL...and even did a rough schedule on how she could find time to practice
3) prepared her for the coming dynamics while she was playing the piece
4) talked to her about the history of composer and song, and why a specific expression is needed
5) even shared with her my concerns about her lack of expression...

I am sure this student is listening...and trying...but I am out of ideas as to how to get her inspired with these pieces once again, now that they are so stale...the fact that she is so busy with school and does not even practice in the week, just frustrates me more...because every lesson that we have, she does not de-prove, nor does she improve...its like we are back to square one...

I think it is also something psychological as well, as many has pointed out...she slouches when she plays on the piano...and the way she plays, seems to tell me that she is not interested at all...except for Theory, which she does with a little more enthusiasm...

So far, I have tried to change the lesson a bit, by doing more sight-reading, aural, and scales...which she is doing fine...and I find myself hopeful...

Until she plays her pieces again...
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956736 - 05/23/08 08:45 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
The point is that enthusiam, boredome, inspiration are instinctive sensations. You can't command them intellectually, either they're there or either they're not. It's like salivating and having dreamy eyes when staring a food you don't like, it is not going to happen.

So it's rather useless to speculate about why this person feels like this and it's pretty mean to even claim it's her fault. She feels like this and this is a reason good enough.

The focus should be on changing this condition on waking up a suffucated and dormant enthusiasm. But since she has technical problems I would focus first on that expecting maybe that solving the technical problesm will bring up the old enthusiam as well. She needs to change the feelings she feels when playing these pieces and she needs to move over and put these behind her very soon.

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#956737 - 05/23/08 09:42 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
I apologize for making assumptions that she is rebelling to get out of the exam in an earlier post. It was speculation guessing at why she is not practicing. It sounds like the young lady may have many other commitments and not have the time to practice. It is an accomplishment in a way that she is not losing the pieces or other basics if she indeed is not practicing. So it is just some small accomplishment that she is taking lessons at all.

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#956738 - 05/23/08 09:46 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
The bad thing is that indeed she have to bring those pieces to the exam. The truth is that the more you struggly with a piece easilier the less likely you're going to master it even if you improved.
Chances are that she might learn 4 new pieces in the time she will take to just master one of the old practiced ones. I love avocado but I would get sick of avocado if I were to eat it at every meal, breakfast included for years and year without no variation. And keystring is right. It's very easy to make the technical problems you had when practicing a certain piece intrinsic to the piece itself so that even if you have become a concertist in the meaintime, playing that particular piece might still bring back faulty technique and pain and disgust.

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#956739 - 05/24/08 04:24 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
It is not realistic to expect her to have any enthusiasm for these pieces after all that time. The exam is only a month or so away and there is not much you can do about it now.

Can she play the notes? In your opinion, is she likely to fail the exam? If you think she will fail then you should either withdraw her or inform the parents and prepare them for it.

Either way the repair work will have to start after the exam. I would consider giving her something new and fresh right now. If you can motivate her to get to the piano between lessons then the chances are she will at least play her exam pieces as well. Spend as little time as possible on those three pieces in the lesson as it is clear that they are going nowhere.

I do feel very sorry for you and your student. I have been in this situation before and it is not pleasant. Our whole education system is based on exam after exam and IMO it does nothing but kill enthusiasm and creativity.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#956740 - 05/24/08 09:22 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
At this point I think that failing the exam might actually help her. When she feels her passion threatened she will wake up from such apathy, the mother will have to comply and just find some peace, the teacher and student will have more time to prepare the next exam, to solve the technical problems and will be able to add interesting or extra-curriculum pieces. Failing is not the end of the world, sometimes it's the best thing and sometimes it's the best way to learn.

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#956741 - 05/24/08 09:41 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
You're assuming that she has a passion, Danny. We don't know whose decision it was for her to take up the piano, and if it was ever "her" activity.

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#956742 - 05/24/08 10:08 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Boxer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/05
Posts: 210
Loc: Chicago
Wake up people! This poor girl has been playing the SAME THREE pieces for TWO YEARS! Are you guys robots that you see nothing wrong with this???

I would have given up on piano long ago, I assure you, if I were in the same situation. Or anything, for that matter, given a similar circumstance.

Here's an idea--she has the pieces memorized. STOP PLAYING THEM! The exam is a writeoff. She'll play how she plays. Done.

Start NOW with some new pieces. As though the exam were over already. Because it is. Taking it is just a formality. Maybe the week before the exam revisit the old pieces--once--to make sure the muscle memory hasn't slipped, but that's it. No dynamics, nothing. Just make sure she hits the notes. And then immediately go back to the new stuff, never to return to these again.

This poor girl obviously has been tortured with a horrible regimen. Once she realizes that you understand that--rather than just perpetuate it--she might start responding a little better. Given something NEW, she might actually start practicing. The last thing she needs is bar by bar instructions, or a lecture about 'only cheating herself' blah blah blah. Try a little empathy and move on. I'm guessing you'll get much better results.

EDIT: I misspelled a word! \:\)

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#956743 - 05/24/08 10:35 AM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Toddo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 67
Loc: Sydney, Australia.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boxer:
Wake up people! This poor girl has been playing the SAME THREE pieces for TWO YEARS! Are you guys robots that you see nothing wrong with this???

I would have given up on piano long ago, I assure you, if I were in the same situation. Or anything, for that matter, given a similar circumstance.

Here's an idea--she has the pieces memorized. STOP PLAYING THEM! The exam is a writeoff. She'll play how she pays. Done.

Start NOW with some new pieces. As though the exam were over already. Because it is. Taking it is just a formality. Maybe the week before the exam revisit the old pieces--once--to make sure the muscle memory hasn't slipped, but that's it. No dynamics, nothing. Just make sure she hits the notes. And then immediately go back to the new stuff, never to return to these again.

This poor girl obviously has been tortured with a horrible regimen. Once she realizes that you understand that--rather than just perpetuate it--she might start responding a little better. Given something NEW, she might actually start practicing. The last thing she needs is bar by bar instructions, or a lecture about 'only cheating herself' blah blah blah. Try a little empathy and move on. I'm guessing you'll get much better results. [/b]
What Boxer said!!! I totally concur.
_________________________
"Persevere,
do not only practice your art,
but endeavor also to fathom it's inner meaning;
it deserves this effort."

Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827

Piano: Yamaha U3E

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#956744 - 05/24/08 12:17 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Student viewpoint here:

I just finished reading a book called "Note By Note." It's a great story by a piano teacher about her life and students.

If I can add on to Boxer's comments, take a tip from this book. When the author's students are bogged down and need motivation, the teacher asks the student what they have on their iPod. They then pick a piece and work on learning to play it together.

Personally, I think that if she is starting to pick up for technique and scales, she would shine working on some music she already loves.

Good luck with this student. I think the only way to turn things around is with a good healthy dose of love and care.

Rich
_________________________

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#956745 - 05/24/08 12:56 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Lessajinomoto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Malaysia
*sigh*...well, I guess letting the exam go, and re-focusing on something new, seems to be the best choice...

though I must say I feel heavy hearted...and guilty too...and helpless...and sorry, that I'm not able to help her in the exam as I would hope to...

Man, I wish I had her a year earlier or something...we could have started something new...and she could have done well in her exam...

Now, I'm just crossing my fingers that she will pass the border line...

*depressed*
_________________________
http://mislaidthoughts.blogspot.com

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#956746 - 05/24/08 04:54 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Lessajinomoto, please remember that none of this is your fault. This girl has been taught by someone who has let her struggle on with the same pieces for over two years. The damage has been done. You must make it clear to the parents that had you took her on before the closing date you would not have entered her for the exam. You are not responsible for the outcome.

You would like to teach her to play the piano and to have some love and enthusiasm for it. We should not teach students to pass exams and collect certificates. However the exam goes she will be no better or worse a pianist as a result. You have an opportunity now to pull her out of this rut. If she enjoys playing and practices regularly then the rewards will come. Her parents should want her to enjoy playing the piano. That is far more important than passing exams.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#956747 - 05/24/08 05:17 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Lessajinomoto, as a student I have the impression that this girl is lucky to have stumbled on to you. From your very first post you have shown sensitivity to how things stood for her, how she is affected, what she needs. You have not blamed a student who shows little interest, but have sought to understand the situation and help her. She could easily have fallen upon a teacher who would give her more of the same, or not delve into the matter.

You demonstrate compassion, sympathy, dedication, and non-judgment. These attitudes transmit themselves to a student, even if the student does not initially dare respond. Have you ever been to the site of musicalfossils.com? Although it talks about adult learners, he also talks about emotional responses of students, the importance that a teacher has. I am thinking in particular of an adult learner who had been physically punished by his childhood teacher, and tried to resume the piano as a successful adult. He could not understand, when his teacher sat far away on a medicine ball, how he could reach him for blows and wondered whether the ball would be hurled at him. Non-abusive lessons were beyond his comprehension. There had been years of these nasty childhood lessons, and it took that particular adult student 1 1/2 years before he could trust his teacher and concentrate on learning to play the piano. All your student had were 2 1/2 years of the same boring piece (er, boring because they were always the same). I have a feeling that she will do well under your instruction.

KS

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#956748 - 05/24/08 06:29 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
Danny Niklas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 905
Loc: Switzerland
Just want to quote what keystring said.
You are dealing with this person acknowledging and respecting her as an individual, not treating her like a student or like an idiot or resorting to silly teenagers stereotypes to avoid responsabilities. You showed a wonderful sensitivity, sympathy and humanity and thanks to these premise you and her will find a solution. She is lucky indeed to have found you.

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#956749 - 05/24/08 06:32 PM Re: Urgent : Bringing the interest out of the bored...
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
.

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