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#12950 - 03/09/06 01:28 PM A child that doesn't seem to progress....
AnnelieseDanae Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 161
Loc: Texas
I have a young student, not too young. She is 9 and will be 10 here within the next few months. She has been playing the piano for 14 months now and she is stuck in PA Level 1. I think she is within the first 5 songs of the book. She just seems to not be progressing. I don't know what to do about her. I know I should NEVER compare students, but what do I do when younger students who start months after her are only a few months behind now. These younger kids that have started after her aren't naturals and don't obsess about practicing, they just progress like average students. This one little boy is 8 and he's close to catching up and his first recital he played before her and the next recital he may be playing after her; she may not notice, but I KNOW her parents will. Her dad already mentioned that the girls were really close to the beginning of the program and other who started after them are farther along. I explained to him that I teach them all the same, but everyone moves at their own pace. However, she is starting to frustrate me because simple concepts like slurs, piano, forte, etc just don't seem to click. She's not a stupid girl. I do notice that she often has her head in the clouds. How do I find a way to catch her attention so that she'll start progressing more on an average pace and speed. Its sad to think she's still struggling in level 1!!!
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Anneliese

"Practicing is the key to success"

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#12951 - 03/09/06 03:03 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Rhondo Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 275
Loc: GA
Did she progress through the primer level at an average rate and then slow down in PA1?

Does she respond to your direction at her lesson and play the slurs and dynamics correctly and then come back in a week and act like she never saw the piece before?

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#12952 - 03/09/06 03:04 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Does she practice much? Could she have a learning problem? The "head in the clouds" COULD be a symptom of Attention Deficit or an LD. I just found out a jr. high student of mine has severe learning problems (she was just tested). She was one who moved very slowly in piano. She is going to get some intensive remedial help for school. After that, I am wondering how she will do in piano. It is truly amazing that she got as far as she did in piano with her problems. Shows she is a very smart girl.

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#12953 - 03/09/06 03:18 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
AnnelieseDanae Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 161
Loc: Texas
This student practices regularly, or so the parents say. However the parents know nothing of music; so if she is playing something wrong, or not the way I have taught her then they can't tell and don't correct her. I know she loves piano and loves playing; lack of interest isn't the problem. I don't think. I don't think she has ADD or anything; could is just be that she has no musical ability or understanding. I've heard that sometimes if you have no natural ability in music it's very hard to learn. She has no ear for music either, so maybe that's the problem. She never went through PA Level 1. I started her as one of my first students so I put her in Alfreds Basic Level 1 and she seemed to do great through the first 1/3 of the book and suddenly since then I've put her in Hal Leonard and not seen good results in that book (infact I saw NO interest) and now I've put her in level 1 thinking she'd be ready for it; but I was sent a private message and I appreciate their advice, which was to move her back to PA Primer level to see where she is in that book, and once we've gotten everything in that book down confidently then we'll go back to level 1. Thanks everyone for your advice. If you have any more thoughts to add let me know. \:\)
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Anneliese

"Practicing is the key to success"

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#12954 - 03/09/06 08:50 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
mirlou Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/28/05
Posts: 181
Loc: The Netherlands
There are always slow starters, but sometimes a few years of patience is the only thing needed. I have a 10 year old girl who started age 5 and needed four years to grasp the concepts. A year ago (she was in Alfred 1B) I gave her PA performance 1 and them moved over to PA lesson books, she's in level 3A now and progresses very fast. Everything comes together now and she is one of my most enthusiastic students, plays very well and can play almost every piece by heart. So don't worry, some of them do need this time.

Teaching by rote can help focussing at certain aspects of piano playing without the 'difficulty' of translating a written piece.

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#12955 - 03/10/06 10:06 AM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
beth ann Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/06/05
Posts: 105
Loc: midwest
I have one of these students myself. She started with me several years ago, but we are stuck in 3A. I think her problem is not practicing, but it is frustrating to see other students moving ahead of her, and to assign the same things each week.

I just had a couple thoughts I wanted to share...

I was worried about the same thing you are for recital. A girl who is younger than this student and who started later is already in Level 4 and playing very well. I also have a young boy who has been with me for two years who is still in Level 1, while a girl who started this summer has already caught up to him.

So I decided not to put my students in order of level or ability for the recital. I am just going to scatter them so there is a nice mix to the music. I really don't want my students comparing themselves as to who is older, who started when, and who is better. They all know each other pretty well because of group lessons, so they are very concious of who has been taking lessons longer.

Also, as the previous poster said, I try to just have patience with these slower students. I feel that even if they are not practicing or progressing, during their time with me they ARE learning. They are experiencing music and experiencing one on one time with an adult, which many of them may not get at any other time during the week. You never know when they may start practicing, or when the light may turn on.

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#12956 - 03/10/06 12:48 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
AnnelieseDanae Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 161
Loc: Texas
Thanks for all the comments. My teacher gave a lot of the same advice as ya'll. I do think she practices, her parents say she does faithfully. I tell her how to practice, but she may not always follow my instructions, not deliberately to cause a problem, but sometimes real practice takes a lot of hard work. I already asked this is another post....but does anyone suggest using the Gold Star books instead of the lesson books?
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Anneliese

"Practicing is the key to success"

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#12957 - 03/10/06 01:24 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
VioletBeauregarde Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 11/17/05
Posts: 502
Loc: Alabama
Anneliese- you might find out if she has a favorite song, like from Disney or such. See if you can find (or even transpose it for her level) at her level. Might make all the difference with something fresh to do same concepts,but in a familiar piece she knows. PA songs are fine, but they don't have familiar melodies to kids. While most will do great on that, kids also like songs they recognize, especially when they are in a slump. Just a thought.
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Adopted childen are NOT lucky- they are blessings.

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#12958 - 03/10/06 02:56 PM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
AnnelieseDanae Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 161
Loc: Texas
Thanks...I agree with you!
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Anneliese

"Practicing is the key to success"

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#12959 - 03/11/06 04:18 AM Re: A child that doesn't seem to progress....
pianoc Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 1088
Loc: Goshen, Indiana
Gold Star books instead of lesson books - could be OK for a period of time - but not permanently. That's probably what you meant. I tell my kids we're going to take a break from our regular books and use "this" for a while. They usually love it - but I know it's because we need to spend some extra time at this same level. New songs - not new concepts. It's really a great thing to do.

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