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#958289 - 11/14/04 07:59 PM Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
tonym Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 5
Loc: California
Hi folks, I am a long time lurker and now a first time poster. I would like to hear some input from the experts on my sonís progress and potential ability.

Our seven year old son started lessons last December with a school friendís mother, who lived close by. She started him out with the Alfred prep course and taught him once a week (30 mins per session). After two months, she had to leave the area due to a job transfer and recommended a friend of hers so we transferred him at that time. The new teacher was a very nice young lady but didnít have prior teaching experience. She thought our son was progressing quite rapidly but didnít have the expertise to properly guide our son in the right direction. She told us our boy was quite musical and deserves an experienced teacher so we started looking. At this point he had completed six months of once a week 30 min lessons with inexperienced teachers and finished the Alfred Prep course levels A through F. We interviewed several teachers within a 3 week period and found a very accomplished teacher of 30 years who was very happy to teach our son. We think she is a wonderful teacher and we have been with her since the first part of July. She keeps telling us how gifted our boy is but I have no point of reference to compare just how fast he might be progressing. I have completed numerous searches on several forums but havenít really seen any posts about the really young kids and how they normally progress.

When we started our son with the new (current) teacher, the first thing she did was to get him off of the Alfred series. She said she was not a big fan and wanted him to work from the Michael Aaron method books. She started him out on Grade 2 and he quickly completed the technique, lesson and performance books. She has him doing Hannon and Czerny OPUS 849 exercises currently. He has also completed almost every piece from the Burgmuller Op. 100 book. He is almost done with the last piece from this book (25. La Chevaleresque). In addition to Burgmuller, she has him playing from the Sonatina album. He has been working on Clementiís Op 36 (all 3 movements) and has almost (99%) nailed this one down to performance level standards in our teacherís opinion. Since his hands are so small (can only reach a 7th), she had to teach him a workaround to be able to play the 20th measure of the first movement. She tells us his technical ability has outpaced what he can reach. She constantly struggles trying to find pieces, which donít require an octaveís reach to play. She wants him to start on Clementi Op36 No. 3 next but is not sure if he can manage it due to the reach problem. She is certain he is ready technically. Has anyone else experienced this problem? If so, any recommendations?

I forgot to mention, he practices close to an hour per day and his lessons are now an hour per week. His teacher said 30 mins was not enough for him. Also, I have no musical talent but my wife took lessons for 5 years in her youth and plays fairly well. She tries to help him along with his practice but he has a hard time taking correction from his mom, however, he has no problems with his teacher correcting him. He also memorizes everything he plays. He says he doesn't try but it seems to happen every time - his teacher tells him to try not to memorize but he can't help himself.

I would like to find out if my son is simply progressing at a normal pace for a seven year old or if he does indeed have some special talent. I welcome any comments/suggestions anyone might have.

Thanks,
Tony

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#958290 - 11/15/04 09:39 AM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
Sarah Jennings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 178
Hi-

I was waiting to see whether any teachers would respond to this; I hope they do! I am not a teacher, but I am a parent of a talented young pianist.

Your son sounds like he has all of the important components for unlimited potential on the piano: a true love for the piano, talent, and determination. Also, I see that you have an Estonia 190, so he has a good quality grand to play on. Lucky boy!

It sounds like your son has a good piano teacher, and he has made a tremendous amount of progress with only a year of lessons under his belt. I like the repetoire that his current teacher has him on. She sounds like she has great experience, and I am a fan of giving children a strong basis in the classics. Clementi sonatinas are among my favorites for talented young pianists. Of course, I am not an expert, but I am a big fan of classical music.

Like you, I rely upon the suggestions of my child's piano teacher for progress recommendations, but I also trust my feelings about the progress being made. Your child's second teacher did a big service to your son by recommending that he get a more experienced teacher. A child that gifted really needs someone who can take him to the next level. It sounds like your current teacher works well with your son, and certainly has worked to keep him challenged given his physical limitations (with his hand size) and his technical capabilities.

Does his current teacher participate in any local or national music organizations? Often there are piano festivals and competitions that are appropriate for children to get involved with - some children work well setting goals for themselves, performing, and competing in competitions.

- Sarah

P.S. - I read a book from the local library about what to look for in a piano teacher and what to expect from piano lessons. It was in the piano section. The book recommended getting a very talented child evaluated by someone from the music department of a local university, and having the evaluator make recommendations about what kind of lesson plan the child should be on, and what kind of teacher they should have. The book recommends getting the very best teacher that you can find for a talented child. It sounds like your teacher is very good, and you are happy with her. I assume that your teacher would let you know if she thought that she could not adequately teach your child. Sorry this is so long!

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#958291 - 11/15/04 05:09 PM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
Sarah Jennings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 178
FYI, there is a post from a few days ago about a 10 year old child who has been taking lessons for 5 years, and she is working on the same Clementi Sonatina that your son has just mastered (36 #1).

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#958292 - 11/15/04 08:28 PM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
tonym Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 5
Loc: California
Sarah, thanks a lot for your response. We also think he has unlimited potential and want to make the right decisions at this stage so he has every opportunity to be successful.

Unfortunately, our sonís teacher does not belong to any professional music organizations. Several of the other teachers we interviewed belonged to the Music Teacherís Association of California (MTAC). There was nothing really negative about any of the interviews with them but the chemistry was simply perfect with the teacher we eventually chose. She is a Japanese American and has been living in the states for 17 years. Like I mentioned previously, she has been teaching for 30 years and also holds a music degree from Senkoko Gakuen University in Tokyo. Our son is also half Japanese and speaks it as a second language so this helps him hone his bi-lingual skills at the same time. The teachers we interviewed, who were members of the MTAC touted the Certificate of Merit program, which he will be missing out on since we chose a teacher outside the association. We also worry about the lack of performance opportunities. I am probably going overboard worrying so much at his early age but we want to make the right decisions now Ė we only get one chance.

I look forward to hearing more comments/suggestions others might have.

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#958293 - 11/16/04 11:36 AM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
Sarah Jennings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 178
Hi-

It sounds like you have a wonderful teacher. I think that chemistry between the student and the teacher is incredibly important.

Does the teacher have recitals? Does your child's school possibly have performance opportunities (plays, assemblies, etc)? Or perhaps you are a member of a church that may take a part in nurturing your son's musical abilities?

Also, I wonder if your son could enter some of the local festivals/competitions without your teacher being a member of the local association. Hopefully some music teachers will comment in this thread as well. If no one else reponds, perhaps you could post your original question in the pianists corner, which seems to get more traffic. This is a perfectly good topic for that forum as well, and you will probably get the perspective of young pianists who have real life experience with this.

- Sarah

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#958294 - 11/16/04 12:23 PM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi Tony,

I've been teaching for over 18 years, and I can tell you that from what I've read in your posts, your child is not progressing normally. He's soaring! I taught a 7 year old this morning and I would say my student is a little below average for 7 and we're working on basic counting and keeping a steady beat. In all my years of teaching, I've only had 3 students capable of what you describe at age 7. (I've taught over 100 students)

After reading your posts, it sounds as if your current teacher fits your needs. I would suggest that if you are happy with her that maybe you could encourage her to join the MTAC. There are so many performance opportunities that could really motivate and inspire your child. If you want him to compete, it will be necessary to have a teacher affiliated with MTNA or with Guild or Federation. If competition is not an interest with your son, don't worry about it.

I have seen students succeed in the national spotlight and become national winners. Some students absolutely thrive in this situation, while others don't enjoy it. If you are just after a well rounded music education, make sure the teacher teaches Music theory, eartraining, technic, sight reading and history, not just repertoire.

Good luck, and I hope this helps!

Cranky Woman \:D
_________________________
www.tcwresources.com

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#958295 - 11/17/04 09:41 PM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
tonym Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 5
Loc: California
 Quote:
Does the teacher have recitals? Does your child's school possibly have performance opportunities (plays, assemblies, etc)? Or perhaps you are a member of a church that may take a part in nurturing your son's musical abilities?
Sarah, she currently does not have recitals but told us she was looking in to possibilities. On our summer trip to visit family in Arkansas, our son got the opportunity to play on an old out of tune grand in the nursing home and really enjoyed the attention -- plus the crowd got a kick out of it. We will definitely have to chat with his teacher about performance opportunities.
 Quote:
After reading your posts, it sounds as if your current teacher fits your needs. I would suggest that if you are happy with her that maybe you could encourage her to join the MTAC. There are so many performance opportunities that could really motivate and inspire your child. If you want him to compete, it will be necessary to have a teacher affiliated with MTNA or with Guild or Federation. If competition is not an interest with your son, don't worry about it.
cranky woman, thanks for your response. We do really like his current teacher and will try and convince her to join the MTAC. I am not sure what is required of a teacher to gain membership, does anyone know?

Thanks again,
Tony

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#958296 - 11/18/04 04:37 AM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Tony-

MTAC is affiliated with the MTNA (Music Teacher's National Association).

My local association requires yearly dues as well as volunteer time. Each chapter is different, so she'll want to check out their website www.mtac.org

I just went to their website, and these are their requirements:

 Quote:
What Does MTAC Membership Offer?
Major opportunities for professional growth and involvement:
Identification with others in similar careers
MTAC Journal: The California Music Teacher
Evaluations and programs for members' students
An annual state convention showcasing presentations by internationally and nationally known artists and lecturers, materials from well-known pedagogues, masterclasses in all instruments and voice, and a showcase for outstanding students at all levels.
Membership
The four classes of membership in MTAC are:
Active Teacher Membership is granted to those who have a degree in music from an accredited college, university or conservatory (or the equivalent), and who are actively engaged in the profession of teaching.
Provisional Membership is granted to those persons offering satisfactory evidence of the intention and ability to qualify for Active Teacher member within three years of application.
Business Affiliate Membership is available to non-teaching persons or firms interested in the purposes of the organization.
Student Membership is available to students who are actively pursuing college degrees as music majors.
Good luck!

Cranky \:D
_________________________
www.tcwresources.com

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#958297 - 11/19/04 03:40 AM Re: Is my 7 Year old progressing normally?
Sarah Jennings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 178
Tony-

There are several malls in my area that have young pianists play for shoppers during the Christmas season. The music does not have to be Christmas specific. If your son has something that is ready to be performed (you said he had just about mastered one of the Clementi Sonatinas) then this would be a fun thing to do.

Also, I am sure your teacher knows this, but many large piano stores have performance rooms that are perfect for recitals.

- Sarah

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