Jan 17 2005, 01:06 PM
I wonder if anyone out there could give me some advice...
I've been teaching a little girl for about a year and a half now, with a 4 month break for the summer. She was only 6 when she started, and a 'young' 6 too. She found sitting down for the full half hour difficult, but we comprimised by taking 'breaks' during the lesson. I would bribe her to sit down and play the piece a few times by letting her play for a few minutes afterwards. This worked quite well, and though she didn't make very fast progress, she did work her way steadily through her tutor book and had just got to the end of it before the summer.
However, coming back after the summer was like starting all over again, but this time it was like working with a sieve! I would just get her reading notes and playing a simple piece with them, but by the next lesson it would be back to square one. I've talked to her about practicing more, but piano isn't a priority at home and her practice seems to be done while waiting for the school bus in the morning. She is doing some practice though, and surely this would ensure that something is retained from lesson to lesson? We've gone all the way back to basics at this stage, learning to differentiate d and b in the RHand LH, but it's not sticking, no matter how slow I take it. I've spent a whole lesson on reading and writing d and b, but still she randomly guesses them the next time I ask her which is which. LH and RH seem to be all the one to her, no matter how much I emphasise the difference. She knows her EGBDF and FACE etc, and is quite good at working them out, but after weeks and weeks of working them out, she still can't recognise them instantly. I wouldn't mind this if she could recognise some notes, any notes, but she can't.
She can play pieces quite well when she knows the tune, and when I write out the notes for her, but since she is now 8 I feel she should be reading some music as well. I teach other 8 year olds, who are reading quite fluently at this stage.
Has anyone out there any advice for me? I don't want her to loose interest and give up, but I'm afraid that's what will happen if some progress isn't made. No kid is going to want to keep playing simple 5 note pieces week in and week out, but that's all she's able for.
All suggestions gratefully accepted!
Jan 17 2005, 07:57 PM
read SarahANN posting a few down from yours in the teacher forum. http://forums.abrsm.org/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=4508
Jan 18 2005, 03:21 PM
She needs help from a parent. Often it's the children with the musical parents who progress the best; they understand the need for practice and they can help with notes, hand postions, posture etc.
Explain to the parent(s) that she needs help at home in order to progress as she's still quite young, and if necessary offer to show the relevant parent a few things - you could tack on 10 minutes to the end of a lesson once or twice, just to give them an idea; it'll be in your interest in the end, as the child wll be easier to teach!
Jan 22 2005, 01:01 PM
Please think, why is ahe learning music? Does she like to play tunes? She is a very little girl and if she can play pieces 'quite well' when she knows how they go, why not concentrate on letting her learn pieces and learn to love playing and feel proud of herself.
I am speaking as a parent, but my child was similar, and never could grasp sight reading. Her teacher let her go her own way and she was able to pass exams, if they are considered important, without the benefit of the sight reading section!
She is still loving music, still playing, passed Grade 8 at 13 with a good merit (yes, failed sight reading!) and is now getting better at reading as she can see for herself that it helps her achieve what she wants to achieve. She is a delight to all of us, and her natual musicallity is brilliant.
If her teacher had made her play music at the same hopeless level that she could read it, she would not be playing today.
Jan 29 2005, 05:01 PM
Introduce her to the wonderful world of improvisation. Use this instead of tutor books for a while and engage her creative and imaginitive mind.
This removes the 'having to get it right' feeling. There are no mistakes in improvisation and I have many a happy pupil who love to do this. They explore the keyboard and 'sounds', as well as all kinds of wonderful new chords and movements, dynamics etc. Also use drawing. Get her for eg to draw a picture of a thunderstorm using colours and then ask her to find different sounds on the keyboard to represent the different parts of the storm like rain, thunder wind etc. Use everything....pedals, the lot! Get her to engage her expressive side! You may well find a new interest. This is a great way to begin the piano with small children who find theoretical concepts difficult and/or boring. That can come later!
Have you done the CT course?? If not, think about it!
Best of luck!
Feb 3 2005, 09:27 PM
Have a look at the topic Teaching Notes to Piano Pupils begun on 9th January where you will find a lot of relevant suggestions.
I use a Kodaly approach in my practice, and work to develop the pupil's musicianship as a first priority, through singing and active participation. Kodaly-trained teachers use simple songs which pupils first learns to sing (both to words and to solfa pitch syllables do re mi etc) and to clap (to words or rhythm names ta, tete etc) before they begin to play them on their instrument: this means pupils first learn the MUSIC, and then play this music on the instrument, rather than coming first to the INSTRUMENT, where playing can easily become an intellectual experience decoding dots from the page. In Kodaly work the pupil is learning from the beginning with a multi-sensory approach, interacting all the time with the teacher, and making real music, not just sitting on the piano stool looking at the tutor book.
The younger the beginner, the more preliminary work is needed, I find. I run pre-instrumental classes in small groups. Some 6-year-olds, already struggling with learning to read at school, find the intellectual process of reading stave notation very very complex and difficult, and often it isn't a very musical experience for them. Kodaly teachers build up reading music in very simple stages, relating it always to active music-making through singing.
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