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#14060 - 07/10/00 11:09 AM A question for the teachers out there
Dan Saydak Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 268
Loc: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I'd sure appreciate some ideas from you teachers out there- here's my question: starting this fall, how can I motivate my son to practice longer? He just completed the Royal Conservatory of Music (Canada) grade 5, with a practical exam score of 74. He's made it this far with very little practice...a typical session is once through scales/triads etc , followed by once or twice through his pieces. on a good day, he practices maybe 15 minutes, and i KNOW he's not achieving near his potential. It's becoming quite clear my "hands off" approach to his practicing is not working. I would like to see him go to 30-45 minutes, but how the heck do you do this without turning him off piano???!!! He enjoys music and is very musical , I think, and i believe he has lots of potential. He's not overprogrammed - piano is his one scheduled activity. other than that, he reads and plays computer games. The only thought I had was a system of "buying" computer time through fulfilling practice obligations. Is this a good idea? any other ideas? help!! I'm desperate, and my wife and i need a plan in place before lessons start again in the fall. I appreciate all the wisdom and experience on this discussion forum! - Dan
By the way, with the little bit of practice he does, he's made it this far on natural gifting, but is starting to "hit the wall" , if you know what i mean.

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#14061 - 07/10/00 12:01 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
Dan,
You are caught in an emotional triangle between your desire for your son's piano success, your son, and his commitment (or lack thereof) to practice.

There are 7 laws of emotional triangles, several which of apply here:

#1) In a nutshell, it will not be possible to change his behavior for more than a week if you *directly* try to change his opinion about practicing. Trust me, I know.

#2) The more you try to change his relationship with practicing, the more your efforts will have the opposite results. He will dig in his heels and enmesh himself further with the belief he doesn't need to practice much. It's called homeostatic forces and they work like a charm everytime we get triangled.

#3) To the extent that *you* try unsuccessfully to change your son's relationship to practice, the more *you* will end up with the stress that SHOULD belong to him. It's his responsibility and decision in the end, and he has to be the one who carries the load. It may be that he will never share your dreams about piano, and, in that case, you get stuck with managing your anxiety about it.

Bummer, eh? Try backing off, and maybe the homestatic laws that are already happening will cool down a little. Also, sometimes kids this age just need to chill for a year or so with piano and not be so serious. If he feels too much pressure, he will probably sabotage the whole thing and end up quitting. But if you are able to stay cool, he might progress more slowly, but stick with it.

Something else to think about is that he is at the "crossroads" age where personal power starts shifting from the parental units to the teen units. If he is feeling stifled in other areas, which most kids his age are, he may be getting his power jollies over you with the piano issue. Are there any other power areas of his life you and the Mrs. might transfer to him? It will probably make a huge difference!

Sorry for the lengthy tome. Hope you're not in a coma by now. Dr. Lisa

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#14062 - 07/10/00 12:42 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Dan Saydak Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 268
Loc: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Au contraire, I'm NOT in a coma. You've given me a lot to think about. I never wanted to be a controlling, manipulative parent, and i never want to be guilty of trying to live out my dreams in my kids. I see enough of that in "sports" parents. Thanks for the wise words, and the food for thought.

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#14063 - 09/23/00 12:01 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
Lisa,
Your post on emotional triangles (above) is fascinating. There must be similar "triangles" between Teachers, Students, and the Teacher's desire for the student to succeed, no? Could you elaborate on how we TEACHERS can get our students to practice more? Would you give us the same advice you gave Dan?

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#14064 - 09/25/00 02:26 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
Eric, the answers to your "outer" questions are yes and yes. Allow me to quote from Rabbi Friedman on the subject:

"The Responsibility Triangle
The problem is that we cannot make another (person) responsible by trying to make him or her responsible. The very act of trying to make others responsible preempts their own responsibility. This is equally true whether the issue is study habits, (practice habits,) drinking, or failure to come to church. Harsh scolding generally should not be seen as inflicting pain. It often only succeeds in taking the sting out of their indolence, thus taking away the stimulus for motivation.

There is, however, a way to be our brother's keeper, to manifest responsibility for a fellow human being without getting stuck in a triangle between that person and his or her failure to be responsible. It is called "challenge," but it requires one to nonanxiously tolerate pain, and sometimes even to stimulate pain, thus forcing the other to increase his or her threshold."

For me, the "pain" teachers often feel is the need to give up defining themselves through their students. For example, if Johnny has been not practicing and is gonna stink at the recital/competition/guild event (and we feel that will define us as teachers) we need to give that up and realize Johnny will really define only himself. "Delegate the anxiety" to where it belongs and see if Johnny takes care of it. Soemtimes delegating the anxiety (via setting boundaries)stimulates the pain temporarily, yet sets a better threshold. An example of that would be when you allowed the Beauty Pageant Mom to make the decision to find another teacher.....

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#14065 - 09/25/00 10:41 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Mary Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 121
Loc: Missouri
Dan, How is your son doing this year? I really liked the idea of buying computer time. I have even asked students to pretend their music is a computer game. If they can't play the music past a certain point they have to go back to the beginning.

Are there music programs at school or church that he can get involved with? Sometimes if students can become part of a group it can prove to be more fun.

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#14066 - 09/27/00 07:00 AM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Dan Saydak Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 268
Loc: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Mary: about my son, Peter. All those ideas I mentioned about buying computer time, etc? We've scrapped 'em. My wife and i have decided for now to give our kids freedom, and get off their backs. They are excited about lessons again, being the start of the teaching year, and i don't want to come down hard on them. Peter has agreed with us to finish up to RCM grade 8 piano, esp. after he found out he can use the grades toward high school credits! What we did do was to buy a bunch of books for supplemental pieces - Peter is working on "Star Trek - the next generation" theme from a nice star trek book, that has all the movie and tv show themes. They are tough arrangements for him, but he's actually practicing now for up to 45 minutes without being pushed, so who says miracles don't happen?! ( note: he's also working on RCM repertoire) After he reaches grade 8 ( in a few years) we'll re-evaluate. so, that's where we are now, everyone seems to be doing fine. I think if he had to buy computer or nintendo time, music would quickly become the "bad guy". One question: are you the Mary who mentioned an arrangement Of Jesus loves Me/Claire de Lune, by Fred Bock? I heard someone play this very piece in church about 5 years ago, and i loved it so much i said to myself i'd have to play that someday. Could you tell me a bit technically about the piece ( difficulty level? key? anything helpful) and the name/publisher of the book it's in? and maybe you could tell me a bit about this fred Bock?
Thanks,
Dan

[This message has been edited by Dan Saydak (edited 27 September 2000).]

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#14067 - 09/27/00 07:39 AM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Dan Saydak Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 268
Loc: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I just did some internet research on Fred Bock, and for all those interested here is a link to his eulogy, posted by his church where he was music director: http://www.fpch.org/top/fred_bock.html
-
Dan

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#14068 - 09/27/00 08:45 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Joy123 Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 05/22/00
Posts: 566
Dan, I read the Fred Boch eulogy. Thank you for letting us know how to find it online.

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#14069 - 09/27/00 10:35 PM Re: A question for the teachers out there
Mary Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 121
Loc: Missouri
Dan: Glad to hear things are going well for your son. Has he tried the Pink Panther Theme? That is always fun for teenage guys to play.

Yes, I mentioned Jesus Loves Me. I would say it is not easy. 5 flats, changes from 4/4, 5/4, 2/4. It uses ideas from Debussy's Clair de Lune. I had an adult student, 60+, play it. She never got it quite up to tempo but she did a respectable job. If you are familiar with Clair de Lune that will help but it is not as difficult. It is in collections but I bought it as sheet music. Published by Fred Bock Music Company. Hope this helps.

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