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#21207 - 10/18/03 06:33 PM Re: Completely rhythmless
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
Jalapeņa, I agree with you about looking at the hands. Years ago for an invention contest my son made a "hand cover" for me to use in lessons. He won an award. The kids liked it better than me using a notebook. But it really got in the way of my teaching, so I stopped using it. My son was heartbroken. \:\(

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#21208 - 10/23/03 02:00 PM Re: Completely rhythmless
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
My rhythmless student is coming shortly and it just occurred to me that there is another unusual problem with this student. He is the only student I have who can't seem to sit solidly on the bench. That is, he always kind of hangs from the front edge. I've given him a book (wrapped in contact paper) to put his feet because he is just inches from the floor, but he kicks it aside. I've corrected his seated position often, but with only minimal success. He just can't seem to sit square on the bench. I'm wondering how a student who is dangling off the bench could be expected to pulse with the rhythm. Seems to be it would be difficult. He is doing great in every other way.

[ 10-23-2003: Message edited by: Lilla ]

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#21209 - 10/23/03 04:55 PM Re: Completely rhythmless
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
OK - he's come and gone. We made sure he was seated squarely on the bench. I had to correct him several times. I noticed that the more he concentrated on counting, etc, the more he started to scoot forward, closer to the music. We made some progress in rhythm. He played Matchmaker (PA Pop rep 1) well, then fell apart on the duet. It's like he is terrified, or extremely self-conscious when the focus falls on him to keep the rhythm. We went line by line playing duet, and basically corrected dotted halfs - that worked. I gave him a specific "counting song" - that is, a piece he's finished well, but we're doing it for one more week with the total goal being to count out loud and play correctly. He is hopeless with the metronome at this point. This week will be a challenge as he has Juggler from PA1. We named and played the notes, counted and clapped. We'll see. He is so bright and always comes prepared. I'd really like to see him get over this hump.

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#21210 - 10/23/03 05:56 PM Re: Completely rhythmless
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by Lilla:
I noticed that the more he concentrated on counting, etc, the more he started to scoot forward, closer to the music.


A thought: Has he had his vision checked? Maybe he can't see well.

Another thought: Do you observe any correlation between the rhythm problems & the pieces he either hasn't practiced or hasn't practiced enough? Maybe it just takes him a while to get the rhythm off the page & into his bones, so to speak. Maybe he just needs to work harder than most students in this particular area.

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#21211 - 10/23/03 09:35 PM Re: Completely rhythmless
pianoc Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 1088
Loc: Goshen, Indiana
Have you tried marching, dancing - to songs. Any songs? I've taught quite a few students from backgrounds that don't allow any dancing of any kind. Even when they were young. Many of them can intellectually count out rhythms, clap them with me, but they don't feel them from within enough to keep it up when they play. I started marching (can't call it dancing) to recorded music. For most of them - it really helped. This has been with young students as well as a few transfer students that weren't doing very well with their previuos teachers - some 12-13.

Once they are able to listen to a recording and know when to take the first step and keep it moving without watching me first - I start seeing improvement in their playing also. I had one student that wasn't allowed to play for a week - just listen to the recordings and "march". I was a little afraid of getting into trouble with the parents - but it really helped the student.

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#21212 - 10/24/03 07:41 AM Re: Completely rhythmless
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Yes, at the outset we concentrated on all types of rhythmic activities. He just didn't seem to get it. I do wonder if it's self-consciousness. His mother has just stopped attending lessons - after 6 months. I think I'll backtrack and try the rhythmic activities again without mom present. We also tried CDs once he got into PA1. I thought he'd love it, but he hated it. Maybe we should try again. Mom & Dad are immensely pleased with his progress, but know that we have a glitch with the counting. This week it seemed he was responding better to instruction and trying harder. We did fairly well with Matchmaker, while it was a total loss the first few times around. I had intended to lay off the duets - but he's playing pieces at school and the teacher sits down with him. Tres embarrassing to the poor child.

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoc:
Have you tried marching, dancing - to songs. Any songs? I've taught quite a few students from backgrounds that don't allow any dancing of any kind. Even when they were young. Many of them can intellectually count out rhythms, clap them with me, but they don't feel them from within enough to keep it up when they play. I started marching (can't call it dancing) to recorded music. For most of them - it really helped. This has been with young students as well as a few transfer students that weren't doing very well with their previuos teachers - some 12-13.

Once they are able to listen to a recording and know when to take the first step and keep it moving without watching me first - I start seeing improvement in their playing also. I had one student that wasn't allowed to play for a week - just listen to the recordings and "march". I was a little afraid of getting into trouble with the parents - but it really helped the student.


Jala - yes, I was wondering about vision also. I'll call his mom.

[ 10-24-2003: Message edited by: Lilla ]

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#21213 - 10/24/03 08:37 AM Re: Completely rhythmless
Lyndall Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 01/18/03
Posts: 99
Loc: Idaho Falls
I doubt my rhythmless student would get into marching around the room (she's nearly 15 yrs old).

I think that counting aloud while playing might be the answer for her because her rhythm improves, but when she stops counting her rhythm falls apart. In fact many of mine benefit from counting aloud & I don't insist on it nearly enough - usually they must count one piece/section aloud each lesson but I need to be stricter! You also have to hope that they will continue to count silently at home - they have 6 days without my reminders!

And what about beat - how do you stop students from getting faster? I guess the marching here will help the younger ones if I do some with them every week...

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#21214 - 10/24/03 09:00 AM Re: Completely rhythmless
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
The solution of course is to help them to feel the pulse. Some students instinctively pulse and never have a counting issue. Other's need to work at it. I have several students who always play perfectly if they are counting (or pulsing). But they always, always have to be reminded to count. There are others who don't pulse, but intellectually count and although a bit mechanically, effectively perform the piece. Are there any unique suggestions or solutions you have found to encourage the more difficult students to pulse? I do intend to try a suggestion to clap/tap along with a recording in various ways to create a rhythm section, with different rhythmic instruments. HL has a suggestion to use a small box and a glass to tap along. (Better be a solid glass/vase. LOL)

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#21215 - 10/31/03 09:20 AM Re: Completely rhythmless
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Thought I'd add a note about my rhythmless student. Because he is diligent and Mom pays attention, he came to his lesson last night with pretty good counting. I'm not sure that I'd call it rhythm. But he improved dramatically.

But, I reminded him that next week starts Christmas. He said he doesn't like Christmas pieces. I played thru every piece in PA1 Stocking Stuffers and had him rate them 1-10. 10 = I love it and can't wait to play it. 1 = I hate that song and don't ever want to hear it again. He rated about 3 pieces 10 - all very upbeat, rhythmic pieces. A couple 1 = unknown melodies and O Come All Ye Faithful. Isn't that strange? He's attracted to peppy, rhythmic melodies. Hmmmmm. (Yes, most boys are). But I see it as the route to securing good rhythmic habits. I'm thinking to forget all about every counting tactic I've ever heard, and just focus on feeling and making music for Christmas. That is, take away all the mechanics, the detail, the chore and drudgery, and focus on making the piano sing, and the piece take it's natural (rhythmic) course. By the time New Year's Day arrives (no Christmas music allowed after New Year's), I betcha he'll have rhythm. cross my fingers xxxxxx

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#21216 - 10/31/03 11:44 AM Re: Completely rhythmless
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
Lilla: Don't count on the use of well-known, rhythmic pieces to straighten out a student's rhythm problems. Maybe it'll work (I hope for your sake that it will), but it might not. In working with my adult student (who obviously had some sort of LD, so this might not apply to your "rhythmless" student), I noticed that when playing songs that she was already familiar with, rhythm wasn't a problem... but that whenever I assigned music that was not familiar to her, she had major difficulties with rhythm. I think her problems stemmed from her inability to learn to read music (she couldn't distinguish intervals--couldn't tell the difference between a 2nd & an octave, for example--and she had major difficulty counting numerically). How well does your student read music? Also, consider the fact that it's possible that he did better this week because his mother made sure he practiced. At any rate, sooner or later your student is going to have to learn how to read & play music that is unfamiliar to him... unless, of course, he refuses to play music that he doesn't know & love, in which case you'll have to decide whether you wish to continue working with him. After all, the pieces in the lessons book are written with pedagogical purposes in mind. If you only allow him to play only the music he loves, he will not learn all the important concepts & skills that he needs to learn in order to become a competent, well-rounded pianist.

JMHO, of course. Good luck.

[ 10-31-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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