Questions about teaching young children

Posted by: Flo

Questions about teaching young children - 11/07/12 09:41 PM

I have 2 kids - 6 1/2 and the other one will be 5 by year's end.

My older daughter started piano lessons already for a year, but her interest is not great. I don't know if I should let her continue.

My son, on the other hand, after asking him, is interested, although I cannot be sure of the reason behind his interest. Could be because of his sister is playing, or because he knows many of his friends are/will be playing. I started teaching him a few days ago. I intend to teach him to identify notes and count and eventually let him go with a professionally trained teacher. Perhaps because of his age, his fingers are not strong enough so I think it would take some time.

My questions are - what is the best way to spark a young child's interest? In my own case, I stumbled upon Chopin at 5 and fell in love with his music, not knowing what I was listening to at that time. so I thought liking some aspect of classical music would help a child greatly since learning with a trained teacher will inevitably mean going through some classical aspects. I know they are not ready for concerts. When I put on Mozart, they asked me to switch to Raffi.

Secondly, I don't know if I should continue to force my daughter or should I just let her quit? Finally, if I perceive that my son's strength is not ready to do a lot of playing, is it better to hold him back a bit other than learning notes and count?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Questions about teaching young children - 11/08/12 08:31 AM

There are a couple of issues you raise:

1) Your daughter's continuation
2) Starting your son
3) Exposing them to classical music

1) I think this really depends on how much of a struggle it is with your daughter. I don't like the idea of "forcing" a child to do piano lessons, but anything short of that I'm in favor of. There are many benefits to piano study outside of learning to play piano that make it a worthwhile endeavor, even if interest is not as high as you'd like.

The child learns how to invest time and energy and focus into something for an end result that may take weeks to attain. In this day and age of immediate gratification, this is such an important lesson for kids to learn.

There are other benefits to piano study such as multitasking and spatial IQ. I don't have the studies that discuss these details, but they are readily available if you search, and it would be well worth the effort to be informed of them.

Lastly, so many people I talk to say they took piano lessons as a child and wish that their parents didn't let them quit. So many returning adult students feel the need to "catch up" on lost time - something that they never will be able to do.

So unless you really mean you'd have to "force" your child to continue piano, I would work out an agreement with her. Perhaps if she agrees to practice 4 days per week, she can decide which days she has "off" but she can't argue with you about practicing when you tell her it's time to practice. This way, you are ensuring she will reap some of the benefits mentioned above. Agree to an amount of time and time of day so that it becomes a routine if at all possible. Also make sure she's not enrolled in too many things to make regular practice impossible or difficult. Stick to this agreement for a set amount of time - say through the end of the school year - at which point you will discuss how she feels about it. Chances are, if she keeps her end of the bargain, she will be progressing decently and will b more inspired to play because she's getting better.

2) As for your son, I would have him start with a teacher. Do an interview/trial lesson with them to see if *they* think he's ready. A professional will know better how to work with a young student and can get him going on the right foot from the start.

3) Classical music is all about live performance, not recordings. Brings your kids to a concert - it is much more engaging, and they will get much more from it.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Questions about teaching young children - 11/08/12 10:08 AM

As a parent i do the following:
Most cities have theaters and usually every 6 weeks there is a children's or family concert. They usually open the doors an hour early and kids can meet the musicians, try out instruments and ask questions. Then they have a concert with music geared to holding a child's interest and they give talks directed to the kids. They are shorter - about an hour.

In the summer most cities have "concerts in the park" and sometimes the musicians play classical music (we go for the variety of music). Because you are outside at a park kids can talk, dance, have snacks and it's relaxing (we pack dinner).

Also look at your area colleges, universities and high schools for teacher performances and student performances. Most are low cost ($10) for adults and free for kids. I'd make sure your kids can sit thought the first two options because the students should have an audience who can be quiet.

I've mentioned here I am a HUGE fan of Classics for Kids. It's a free radio and podcast. Each episode is 6 minutes and you learn about a composer and history, hear parts of pieces of their music and after, my daughter and I seek out the full pieces. We listen to the podcasts in the car.

I keep the car radio on a classical music station (aside from a jazz station - my daughter recently discovered it). This passive hearing helps me appreciate it more. For some reason my daughter loves classical music but it took my brain some adjusting and a LOT of exposure before I started to look forward to it.
Posted by: Goof

Re: Questions about teaching young children - 11/12/12 09:51 PM

Having a grandaughter,now nine, who was not really keen on learning the piano, after she had to stop violin when changing schools, I have had to bribe my lessons with the promise of a trip to the toy shop.
To sustain interest I have used my version of "Suzuki" - find the notes for a well known tune e.g. Pop goes the weasel, and learn by ear.
Lessons are anything but formal, she's a wriggler. However, now about thirty lessons from start, and a year on, she can give a two handed rendering, verse and chorous, of Over the Rainbow. Also she can do an "inate" transposition by starting the tune on any note - just the tune no left hand. Considering thatI have generated some interest and can see that she likes a challenge I will sart to lead into some sight reading: especially as she has on her own read the notes of Silent Night: from a score where the notes have their letter within their "blobby part"! So! there is my scheme: make it a game where the pupil can achieve recognition of their achievement. I wish I'd had the time to do the same with my own daughters, but owning and riding horses in Africa was something that is not so easilly achieved in rainy Britain.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Questions about teaching young children - 11/13/12 09:11 AM

I think we have another case of PAD here (post and disappear, I believe that's what we've called it) laugh