Encouraging practice - How do you do it?

Need help with your young piano student or maybe just like to share the joy?

Postby Beckywy » Fri Dec 02, 2005 9:25 pm

I teach at an inner-city music school with a 2 year waiting list for piano lessons. The kids there know that if they don't practice, they can be kicked out immediately and their spot given to someone on the waiting list... So, when they say they didn't have time to practice, it just means that it was less than the hour per day but more than 30 mins.
"The real purpose of studying music-to unite ourselves with our special gifts in such a way that one would add strength to the other" Seymour Bernstein
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Sat Dec 03, 2005 5:29 pm

Beckywy,
How great to have all your students practice so long. You must be able to teach them so much more than we do in our private lesson in the subburbs! I often think how much I would like a certain student to learn, but cannot progress when the practice time is not there. I will wrok on a lesson plan, but cannot always implement it.
Do you use any rote teaching, or composing? I would love more time for composing.
Do you teach at home too?
Joan
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Postby Beckywy » Sat Dec 03, 2005 8:19 pm

Hi loveapiano:
I do have a home studio with an equal number of students as the school. I can tell you the attitude towards piano lessons are very different from the kids at the school and the kids at my home studio. The kids at the school really take the lessons seriously and they are very grateful for them. Whereas the kids who come to my home studio are scheduled to the crown of their heads with activities they can't appreciate what their parents are giving them.

At the school, I had a student come in this week very tired and listless, and after trying to talk to him, found out that all he had to eat for the entire day was 1 glass of milk. His family ran out of food and hadn't had time to go to the food bank for more. The child is only 7 years old, yet he made the time to still practice and come in for lessons. It's unbelievable.
"The real purpose of studying music-to unite ourselves with our special gifts in such a way that one would add strength to the other" Seymour Bernstein
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:25 pm

Beckywy,
I figured it would be that way..unfortunately.
I hope you provide some snacks for your students at school.
Do they use keyboards? You might want to reply to Stretto on keyboard / piano - new.
I am SO glad to know that there are people like you teaching children who are so eager to learn and cannot afford private lessons.
Joan
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Tue May 23, 2006 7:31 pm

One of my students, just turning nine in June, and in his first year of piano, made my day again, today. He is always questioning and listening and practices well. Today he began on Beethoven's Fifth ( simplified version) and somewhere he heard another tune, and began to play it, a folk song, then he heard another one, and played that. We got back on track with Beethoven. but it was really exciting to hear him do that. We talked about a medley...and he was interested. I think we will stick to folk songs, or show tunes. He is a joy to teach.
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Postby north star » Wed May 24, 2006 11:55 am

Hi all. I'm new to this forum and am very happy I came across this wonderful website where ideas can be exchanged.

My daughter is 8 and is currently doing Gr 4 under RCM. Her piano teacher made it very clear to us at the first interview that she requires all her students to practise else lessons may be terminated.

I guess my girl does understand that for her to improve in her piano playing, she needs to practise. Each time she wins an award (at talent show, piano competition etc.) we'd reinforce that her effort and time spent practising had paid off. Of course, credit goes to her teacher for the fine teaching.

As much as teachers can encourage the student, parents are responsible to make sure our kids practise.
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Postby Stretto » Wed May 24, 2006 6:10 pm

Welcome!

As a teacher, I always covet a parent's perspective on the piano lesson experience. I know of another teacher who has a similar policy about students being dismissed from the studio if there is lack of practice and thought that sounded like a good idea.

I haven't implemented that policy myself but might consider it especially if I had a full studio and others waiting to sign up that might be more committed.

Thanks again for your perspective. Sounds like your daughter is doing great!




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Postby north star » Wed May 24, 2006 10:15 pm

Stretto,

Thank you so much for your kind comments.

I've some music background. Hence, my daughter's piano teacher ropes me in to supervise her practice sessions. I'm asked to arrive 10 minutes before lesson ends. The teacher will let me know which areas need more work and how to practise. As you can tell with such an arrangement, there'll be no way for me to use the teacher as a 'babysitter'. Haa!

I think kids enjoy playing duet pieces. My daughter usually ends off her practice session by playing a couple of duet pieces with me.
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu May 25, 2006 8:00 am

Hi, North Star, and welcome.

You sound very close to the ideal parent of the ideal student of an ideal teacher! Parental involvement is so important, and your own musical background insures that you can understand what the teacher is asking for and know how to follow through on it. I've seen parents who 'help' their kids at home by trying to use some personal method that is the absolute opposite of the way the teacher is trying to teach, and the result is nothing but confusion. You and the teacher sound like you're going about it in just the right wat.

Duets are great, too!

Dr. Bill Leland.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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Postby Stretto » Thu May 25, 2006 11:51 am

north star wrote:I think kids enjoy playing duet pieces. My daughter usually ends off her practice session by playing a couple of duet pieces with me.

What duets has she enjoyed the most? I've just had a student start playing duet with her mom and I think her mom really enjoys that as a fun way to be involved.

What have been some of your daughters most enjoyable pieces learned so far even from the beginning? I'm always on the look out for what might be "student's favorite pieces"?
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Postby north star » Thu May 25, 2006 6:42 pm

We're currently working on duet pieces from the Alfred's Basic Piano Library Series.

My daughter enjoys playing pieces in the BigTime Piano Classics Series by Faber & Faber. She'll light up whenever the radio plays any of the current pieces she's working on.

When she was younger, the Up-Grade Series by Pamela Wedgwood was her favourite.

I think if she could, she would play Christmas carols all the time. She uses the hymnal, playing whatever notes her hands can reach.

She used to pester her first piano teacher to write out simplified version of pieces she wanted to play such as Danny Boy, choruses like Give me oil in my lamp, Hallelujah, As a Deer, Whisper a Prayer, Jesus Loves Me etc.
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Postby Stretto » Thu May 25, 2006 9:31 pm

north star wrote:We're currently working on duet pieces from the Alfred's Basic Piano Library Series.

My daughter enjoys playing pieces in the BigTime Piano Classics Series by Faber & Faber. She'll light up whenever the radio plays any of the current pieces she's working on.

When she was younger, the Up-Grade Series by Pamela Wedgwood was her favourite.

I think if she could, she would play Christmas carols all the time. She uses the hymnal, playing whatever notes her hands can reach.

She used to pester her first piano teacher to write out simplified version of pieces she wanted to play such as Danny Boy, choruses like Give me oil in my lamp, Hallelujah, As a Deer, Whisper a Prayer, Jesus Loves Me etc.

I like the Faber and Faber supplemental books too and have been using more and more of those.

I have a student also who loves Christmas songs and told me she could play them all year. The same student also really wants to learn some gospel/praise and worship songs.

That's great your daughter knows all those old choruses. Some of my students have asked to learn similar songs as well.




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Postby 108-1121887355 » Sun May 28, 2006 8:34 am

That is the best way to have practicing fun and not a chore. Give the students pieces that they enjoy! Last year, I sometimes used this as a way to have a 7 yo play some of the pieces that I chose. I will give you your choice this week and next week will be my choice, and vias versa. Usually she ended up enjoying mine as well, but her first thought was that she didn't like it. This year, she accepts my choices willingly!

Spending time making some versions of pieces easier, is well worth it.
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Postby north star » Tue May 30, 2006 10:36 pm

Hi Loveapiano,

You certainly sound like a teacher who knows how to make piano practice fun for your students. :D

I'm curious if you allow your students to pick their exam pieces. My daughter gets to choose one or two exam pieces. Her teacher believes in letting her students choose pieces they enjoy playing.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed May 31, 2006 10:50 am

I try - I have found that the pieces the students enjoy are the ones that get the most practice and in turn they are the best learned.

I do not have 'exams' for my students - I have an end of the year Musicale - informal, in my home, and yes, they do choose their pieces. I may make suggestions, but they choose. Some have written compositions and they may play one of them. They may have just learned or started a new piece and play the first theme. One eight year old has picked 6 pieces to play (most take less than a minute) - this is his first year. His enthusiasm is what it is all about. One is his composition, and the others include easy versions, but not really easy for him, of Beethoven's Fifth, Olympic Fanfare, Star Wars theme, Hedwig's theme, and The Pink Panther.

If students are preparing for certain criteria for a performance, then I would help them choose certain pieces, but would give them choices, forinstance, from some Sonatinas, pieces by Mozart, and so on.

Kodos to your child's teacher!

My announcement at the beginning of every Musicale is: Your children have choosen pieces they they enjoy playing and I know you will enjoy listening.

My words to the students - enjoy - have fun sharing your music with others. Wiath the younger ones, we begin with some duets with me,that way no one is 'first'.



:D
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