quiet student

Posted by: ten left thumbs

quiet student - 01/30/13 04:31 AM

I have a beginner (girl, 7yo) who resists anything other than pp, and I'm wondering how others would handle this.

She is on MFPA book B, progressing well, bright, practices at home. She only speaks when asked a direct question, and then only in a whisper. She will only play pp and when asked to play louder she will get to about mp but visibly doesn't like it.

We do all the usual stuff about arm weight, and you can see her relaxing her arm down to an inch above the key, then tensing up and, well, what comes out is pp.

I'm beginning to wonder whether she really dislikes loud noises. (My son had this, and he was really phobic of cinemas, etc). She has a DP at home, and perhaps by comparison, my noisy piano is frightening to her? I was wondering whether I should ignore this just now, let her play quiet and wait for her to mature?

What would others do?
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 04:38 AM

Spend a lesson listening to music. To classical music, and perhaps not only. Find works with a great dynamic range. Get the Bolero for example, or some other work, or some movie soundtrack. Show her the difference between loud and soft, and why it's nice to have variations...

Alternatively just get her to laugh... Make jokes, be funny, etc... That should help out the situation a bit I think.

Best of luck!
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 07:31 AM

Good idea. She's not the easiest kid to get to laugh, but we could do some listening.
Posted by: TimR

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 07:44 AM

I have a DP at home.

If I turn the master volume down, I need a good bit of weight to make any sound.

If I turn the master volume up, I almost can't play softly enough not to get an explosive bang out of it that's quite disconcerting.

I've tried to set the volume to respond as near to an acoustic as I can, just like I set the incline on a treadmill to match the effort on a real track. Perhaps the child's DP needs some adjusting. Maybe it should be set artificially soft for a while.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 08:57 AM

It could be a few things: the DP at home if it's turned down or if she uses headphones, she will be used to a lower volume. However, the fact that she is very soft-spoken too may hint at some things. I would ask her parents if she appears to be sensitive to loud noises. Knowing whether or not this is a physical issue vs. psychological would be helpful.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 10:43 AM

Ask her if she can throw a tantrum at the keyboard, just as a game.

Or tell her to adopt another persona, just as a game. Have her put on a scarf, or a hat, or a mask, and then tell her to play like a Canadian.

You might see a new girl inside.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
tell her to play like a Canadian.


Angela Hewitt, perhaps?
Posted by: R0B

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 10:57 AM

Nothing wrong with waiting.
If it's in there, it will come out in time.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 11:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Ask her if she can throw a tantrum at the keyboard, just as a game.

Oh, don't give these children any ideas about throwing a tantrum.

Maybe relate forte sound with a big animal (elephant, whale, dinosaur) and piano sound with a small animal (mouse, kitten, puppy). Or associate different sound levels with different moods (happy = loud, sad = soft). But if it doesn't work with this girl, you might want to wait a few more months. It just might be a confidence issue.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 11:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Ask her if she can throw a tantrum at the keyboard, just as a game.

Or tell her to adopt another persona, just as a game. Have her put on a scarf, or a hat, or a mask, and then tell her to play like a Canadian.

You might see a new girl inside.


That's great, fantastic! Love it!
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 12:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose


Or tell her to adopt another persona, just as a game. Have her put on a scarf, or a hat, or a mask, and then tell her to play like a Canadian.



Ask her to try playing like a Scot.
Posted by: Forstergirl

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 12:51 PM

Highland or Lowland?
Posted by: Matt Walker

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 12:57 PM

I also have a girl who is quite reluctant to play forte. Everytime I go round her piano volume is set quite low, and I have a feeling it's because her parents don't like her playing loudly.

Still, IMO students find playing pianissimo very hard; your pupil sounds like a natural!
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 01:26 PM

Thanks for the suggestions.

I can't ask her to throw a tantrum - she's very well behaved and I don't think she knows the meaning of the word.

As for playing like a Scot: well it is a particularly Scottish trait, especially for girls, to be very shy and retiring. Not to say a word in class, and never to speak above a whisper to an adult. So, I don't think that's going to cut it really.
Posted by: keystring

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 02:29 PM

Isn't it possible that she is taught to be polite, unobtrusive, and maybe never make mistakes - that kind of thing?
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 02:43 PM

Something like that.

She's also one of the few kids around who is black.
Posted by: Vid

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 03:21 PM

And how do Canadians play? Like Glenn Gould??? smile
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 05:23 PM

We try to mimic hockey players like Rocket Richard and Wayne Gretzky. At least I do.
Posted by: keystring

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 05:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
We try to mimic hockey players like Rocket Richard and Wayne Gretzky. At least I do.

Yeah, we have some pretty butchy women up here. It's the weather.

Actually can usually tell by excessive reverb and politeness of the kind "Thank you kindly!" (See Due South). The reverb is a technical problem we're still working out. We have tried getting rid of the smoothness on our igloos, but alas, the ice melts and refreezes, and the reverb is back.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: quiet student - 01/30/13 06:30 PM

I tease my daughter's coach that he should be glad she is getting taller so he doesn't have to bend over almost double to hear her. I have audacity and you can play an mp3 file and "see it" on the screen. Maybe you could have her play and record until it gets to "so high" on the volume scale. Maybe there is some sort of tool like that as an app?

You could also ask her parent to help her play louder - as them to listen from another room in the house.

Let mom or dad know as well about her not being heard easily while speaking. Her piano teacher doesn't mind my daughter being soft spoken but it also doesn't effect her playing. Her class teacher is a little tired of it so we have "practice" at home and she volunteered to lead the class recitals to help her project her voice. I didn't realize it was effecting class discussions so i was glad her teacher mentioned it to both of us.