ZONE IN KID'S PIANO LESSONS
I find myself
approaching it constantly: that impatient feeling, my mind
saying, "Why can't this kid get it?"
that's the very moment you know you're off the track,
because you've stopped watching the child's reaction and
instead you're listening to your own reaction.
Kids can't go
as fast as you, not by a tenth, not by a factor of 10,000.
question to always be asking yourself is, "WHAT don't they
understand?" not "WHY don't they understand?" The
"why" is obvious: They're kids.
I watch their
hands, I watch their fingers, I watch their faces, I watch their
eyes for clues of what's going on.
As soon as you stop watching the child, you've taken
your eyes off the road.
If you watch
the child, you'll find the reason.
their eyes aren't on the keys, they aren't paying
attention so you'd better find out what is distracting
them before you attempt to engage their attention. You
can't demand attention; you have to earn it, somehow.
their eyes aren't on the page during music reading, you
have to find a way for them to negotiate the difficult task
of looking two places at once: the keyboard and the page.
Make a game of finding one note on the page, and then on the
keys. Make a race out of it.
watching their fingers and eyes, you will see if they are
unsure of direction and the up/down progression of notes. If
so, stop and play games that solidify their sense of
danger zone is reached when trying to read music. Try to see if
they are generally tired, or are just having a problem with one
PLAY IT AGAIN
children do not practice, I am quite comfortable with having
them practice WITH me, although they may not perceive that's
what we're doing. Thus, if I really think they ought to know
something, but have not learned it due to lack of practice, I
resolve to practice the song right there, right now. I just
don't tell them that's what I'm doing. And I never get
words, "So you haven't practiced it, have you?" have never
fallen from my lips, I am proud to say. Instead, here's what I
I play a game
called "Play It Again," in which I foolishly write the words
"Play It Again" on one Post-It and "We Have A Winner"
Then, like the
Oscar announcer, I present the "envelope" to the child.
Strangely, kids will repeat anything happily if you play this
silly game with them.
The result is
usually 10 minutes of very intense happy work attempting to get
the announcer to say "We have a winner in lane 5!!"
choose some simple passage, a few notes long and a small portion
of it that we work over, again and again, just as a professional
would practice, except that the child thinks we are playing a
game called "Play It Again."
of this "let's practice it together but not call it that"
approach is this: instead of a humiliated child who didn't do
their work, you now have a happy child who knows the passage and is
ready for the next stage on that piece.
The lesson is
children don't practice because they are CHILDREN, not because
they are lazy, or untalented.
In playing this
game, you are really showing them HOW to properly practice, a
lesson that may take decades to sink in.
your choice: enter the danger zone of anger, or solve the
problem head-on by getting the child to learn the music with you
by making the repetition into a game.