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#64348 - 11/19/13 01:28 AM Trying to decode 5 y.o. behavior
Arioso62 Offline
New Member

Registered: 11/13/13
Posts: 1
I have a new transfer student who recently turned five, and I am having difficulty managing his behavior during our lessons. I am noticing that when he gets frustrated--and he is probably a perfectionist--he stops trying and refuses to cooperate. The rest of the lesson goes down the drain. I've talked with his mom about this behavior on several occasions, but we haven't made any progress. She has told me that if he feels underprepared or is moody, he shuts down. I feel bad for wasting their lesson time, but to be honest, it ruins my day. frown

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

#64350 - 11/19/13 08:05 AM Re: Trying to decode 5 y.o. behavior [Re: Arioso62]
ndmr Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/10
Posts: 341
A 5 year old is very young, so don't expect him to act like older students do. Lots of off the bench activities, fun, praise and patience from the teacher are essential! try reading the teachpianotoday blogs, they are full of ideas, as is the Susan Paradis one. Good luck!

#64352 - 11/19/13 08:55 AM Re: Trying to decode 5 y.o. behavior [Re: ndmr]
pianojazzgirl Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/26/03
Posts: 847
Loc: Montreal
Yes - exactly what ndmr said! 5 years old is young... and *just turned* five is even younger. For most kids at this age it is imperative to keep the lesson moving (not spend too long on any one activity) and to keep the lesson fun. Typically with a kid that age we're up and down from the piano, singing, being goofy, playing games on the floor, doing coloring and writing activities at the table. The younger the kid the more extra activities I have waiting in the wings just in case, and the more ready I am to switch gears if I sense things are going south.

Besides the challenges of teaching such a young child, you also have the challenges of teaching a transfer student. If he has been advanced prematurely, without really mastering all the skills of the level, then that could also play into the frustration you are seeing now. His mom said that he acts out if he feels unprepared. Be careful that what you are working on is not above his comfort level/ability. Often with transfer students we will "back up" a bit, just to make sure that there are no gaps in skill or knowledge. A young child like your student won't have too much concept of "levels" or "moving backwards" making it easier for you to introduce some pieces that will be easy for him to learn, thus giving him a sense of accomplishment and pride.

With Christmas around the corner (if he celebrates Christmas) perhaps you could make from now until Christmas break "Christmas fun month". You could introduce some easy Christmas carols (either a bit below his reading level, or you could teach them by rote). Do sing-alongs during lessons where you play and you both sing while he keeps the beat on a rhythm instrument. Print off some Christmas-related games and worksheets. Susan Paradis has a fun "Christmas Train" composition sheet on her website that you could use to help him write his own Christmas song. Try to keep the vibe festive and fun. Put aside his current method for a bit. Be prepared to be a bit goofy. Perhaps some very small treats or trinkets could be involved somehow.

Good luck!

#65152 - 07/02/14 07:55 AM Re: Trying to decode 5 y.o. behavior [Re: pianojazzgirl]
Bridget Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 06/17/14
Posts: 63
Loc: Ohio
Games, games and more games! I never introduced games into my lessons until this past year, and now I'm kicking myself for not doing it in the past! Especially with one so young, I find that games are the best way to keep them motivated and involved. I find lots of them online, but it's very easy to make your own. "Color by note" is a great way to supplement written theory work that helps them learn new concepts at home, but doesn't involve too much "boring" stuff, and parents are a bit better at helping out if they have no musical background themselves.


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