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#28378 - 07/19/03 10:34 AM Practice Instructions: How specific?
Marcia Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/18/00
Posts: 354
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
After my vacation I listened to the first message on my answering machine: the student is "not going to come to the next summer lesson or finish the summer." When I called to talk, the mom said she was confused about what to do each week. (A 14-year-old homeschooled 8th grader that I've taught since December 2002. She transferred from a teacher she "didn't like.") She wanted a specific direction on how many times to play each measure, etc. This is how her teacher during her elementary years taught and she can't seem to adapt to the idea she should listen as she practices, evaluate if it is reflecting good sound and musical details, then move on. This is *amazing* to me! A 14 yr old who is playing sonatinas that needs a teacher to nurture her along this closely?!

Please post opinions on the situation, or teaching students in general who are this legalistic about practice. After two weeks, I'm finding this still bugs me!

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#28379 - 07/19/03 12:08 PM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
AdrienneM Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/28/01
Posts: 317
Loc: Kentucky, USA
The request to not finish out summer lessons doesn't jive with the reason given, IMHO. Yes, I think it is reasonable to expect a 14-y.o. to work independently.

Similar to a cancellation that I posted about earlier in the week, I would tell the parent that I would hate to see her forfeit the lesson (assuming it is prepaid). Not much else you can do, I don't think. Sounds like the made decision was to cancel the lesson and perhaps the parent doesn't want to take responsibility, so came up with the practice instructions excuse.

Of course, this is just my impression from your description. I hope she changes her mind! \:\)
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Private Piano Instructor in Lexington, Kentucky
http://perpetualpiano.blogspot.com
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#28380 - 07/19/03 04:12 PM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
Jalape˝a Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
IMO, the older a student is, the more s/he should be able to work independently. If s/he can't, then something is dreadfully wrong. Perhaps this girl's parents have never allowed her to work problems out for herself. If someone is always standing over her shoulder, helping her with everything, then she will never develop the ability to work independently. Sometimes children need parental help with piano study, but I believe that most of the time they don't. Only the little ones who can't read instructions need parental help. Older students should be able to listen, follow directions, & complete assignments on their own.

When I was growing up, I had no one at home to help me with my piano assignments. Neither one of my parents played any sort of musical instrument, & neither one could read music. My older sisters took piano lessons, but only for a short time; & by the time I started taking lessons, they were already married & out of our house. Anyhoo, there were times when I got frustrated, but I did everything my piano teacher told me to do, practiced hard, & studied piano for 11 years (year 'round; no summers off). Today's generation of children seem to want instant gratification. They want to be successful, but they don't want to work. Well, I have news for them. Learning to play the piano is hard work, even when it's something you love doing. I always loved taking piano lessons, & I never minded practicing (my parents never had to tell me to practice; I just did it), but it was still a lot of work.

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#28381 - 07/19/03 05:04 PM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
Regarding instant gratifiction.....
My 22 year old son and his 22 year old friend stopped by last night and "entertained" us for awhile. These two have been friends since they were 2 years old! Anyway...the friend asked me if he were to start lessons with me right now and put his all into it, would he be proficient an able to just play anything within a year!
Mind you, this kid has had NO music background AT ALL!!!!! I said "NO". I explained some things to him about music study and piano study. He just could hardly believe it would take him more than a year to "do it all". I know he is NOT serious so I am not even thinking about it.

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#28382 - 07/19/03 07:33 PM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
Martin Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 12/06/01
Posts: 403
Loc: SOUTH CAROLINA
NancyK---I know exactly how you feel!
I have adult students calling me all the time wanting to learn to play for their church and "how long" will it take for them to learn to do this?????
:rolleyes: I try to be as gracious as possible---because I admire those that wish to do that for ministry and have the motivation to do so. And how can you not teach basic fundamentals of music for them to understand how it applies to sacred music?
On the other topic here on practicing--I also had a student that was coming every week during June then all of a sudden she missed 2 wks....gone out of town, some other excuse...now her mom says she is so busy with her swim lessons and handbells and whatever she wants to "chat" with me about what to do and maybe looking at getting a "fresh start" when school takes in again....that was my message on the answering machine earlier today!
We still have 6 lessons scheduled---just don't have a clue as to how to "chat" about the importance of commitment and following through.
Do you think this has anything to do with the student being homeschooled???
We homeschooled our youngest and I find in some groups that some families are very laid bašk on their schedules so as not to be stressed about it - a different lifestyle so to speak...and then I would've been pulling out my hair if we had not been structured in our school and activities scheduling.
I have also taught piano to many homeschoolers and find there are different perspectives on priorities.
By May of each year many parents are on the burn out phase from schooling and need time to just have a parent-child relationship with their children instead of teacher-child. IMO each family that homeschools values different areas of the homeschooled life for lifestyle reasons.
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RMARTIN

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#28383 - 07/19/03 08:50 PM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
Marcia Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/18/00
Posts: 354
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
 Quote:
Originally posted by Martin:
. . .Do you think this has anything to do with the student being homeschooled???


Yes! Guess what? The student in my original post is homeschooled. IMO, if she continues in this fashion, no way will she be ready for the challenges of college and the "real world." I must say, however, that I have had some excellent homeschooling families to work with. You're right when you say there is a wide variation in what part of the homeschooling lifestyle they value.

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#28384 - 07/20/03 05:14 AM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
Martin Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 12/06/01
Posts: 403
Loc: SOUTH CAROLINA
Marcia-AMEN! to your last remark...
I've been there and done that....so I do know there are some homeschool families that excell in their music as in other studies and others trudge along not really knowing which curriculum to use year after year or should I do this or that? Sounds like your home schooled student falls in the latter category...
I know people in my area that start homeschooling as soon as their children begin the middle school or 6th grade stage---simply because they don't wish to have their children mixing with the values of the schools on sex education and other issues, violence, you name it. But the parents sometimes are not prepared themselves to take on this role as the teacher also even tho he or she may be very qualified with college degrees and doctorates, etc. It is just a different scenario entirely when you teach school subjects to your own children and sometimes more than one at that...sounds to me like the parent is just letting the 14 yr. old use his own guidelines without any input or accountability to the parent. So what if the parent doesn't know anything about the music!!! As in their daily lessons they can incorporate time to sit and practice and of course the 14 yrold can make a decision as to if she practices BETTER by doing measure to measure or line by line or the whole piece slowly...my GOODNESS! what will she be like in 3 years upon graduation
_________________________
RMARTIN

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#28385 - 07/20/03 09:04 AM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
Marcia Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/18/00
Posts: 354
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
 Quote:
Originally posted by Martin:
Marcia-AMEN! to your last remark . . .
I've been there and done that . . . sounds to me like the parent is just letting the 14 yr. old use his own guidelines without any input or accountability to the parent. So what if the parent doesn't know anything about the music!!! As in their daily lessons they can incorporate time to sit and practice and of course the 14 yr old can make a decision as to if she practices BETTER by doing measure to measure or line by line or the whole piece slowly...my GOODNESS! what will she be like in 3 years upon graduation


The really "telling" remark the parent made was that she just didn't know when to let the daughter do what she wants and when to tell the daughter what they're going to do. I have a 14 yr. old too, and I know they must make some decisions on their own, but this wouldn't be one of them. My student has some neighborhood children that she teaches now and wants to go on to get a music degree and teach piano lessons. I just don't see her developing the independence that she needs to do this. No teacher can adequately provide a music education in the 30 min. or 45 min. (or even 60 min.) lesson per week. I've heard it said that we don't teach how to play, but how to practice. I agree. The thing that is missing in this student's practice is any sense of listening, evaluating, and then further practice based on the need of the moment. I would even say that an 11 yr. old should be able to do this, much less a 14 yr. old.

[ 07-20-2003: Message edited by: Marcia ]

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#28386 - 07/20/03 09:24 AM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
Elbe Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 323
Loc: The Great Northwest
I would just go ahead and print out some instructions she could place somewhere close to her piano at home. It would go something like this. play the first line. If you make a mistake, go back and correct it. play the correction 5-10 times (you choose the number). Play line two if you make a mistake, correct it and play the correction ? times. Play lines one and two. any mistakes need to be corrected and played ? times. Play line three....etc. to the end of the assignment. After she has this in hand, then you can divert from it on her weekly assignment sheet as necessary. I guess it really comes down to whether this is a real concern or a convenient excuse. I just think were all wired a bit different and some of us are wired REALLY different. ;\) \:\)

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#28387 - 07/20/03 12:53 PM Re: Practice Instructions: How specific?
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
This is maybe getting more off the original subject, but I am curious about homeschooling. I am getting more and more homeschooled students and as mentioned, there seems to be quite a variety in how it is carried out. The one thing I really like about getting homeschooled kids is that they are free for lessons before the other kids get out of school. Anyway....I never homeschooled but have friends and family who did or are. The ONE thing in commom in all is the desrie to protect their kids from the "bad stuff" out there. I'm not sure I agree. But my biggest observation is this....some families homeschool through the elementary school years in order to give them a good solid start and instill values that they can then carry into their Jr, High and High School years. Others, put their kids in public (or private schools) through the elementary grades and then pull them out as soon as they hit Jr. High and homeshool them through highschool. Both types of parents are after the same thing...protecting their kids from "bad stuff" but they approach it totally opposite. Homeschooling early on makes more sense to me, equipping them for the real world of Jr.High and Highschool and beyond. Giving them a solid base to work from. I have pondered this a lot and really wonder about it. If any of you care to share more of your philosophy and especially experiences with it, please do or write me privately. Thanks.

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