Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And the Teacher becomes the Student...

As a piano teacher, I've had a handful of adult students and have often been frustrated by my teaching capabilities with adults.  Many times the students last less than 6 months and frustration seems to be the main reason (or it really could be me, they just don't tell me!). 

Well today I got a taste of what it must be like to be an adult piano student. I met with a friend, who is a swim instructor, for a swim lesson.  Right off the bat we started working on drills to improve my freestyle kick.  I struggled.  All of a sudden I was hit by a wall of embarrassment, frustration, and discouragement. It was difficult to keep going.  I'm an intellectual person, have a college degree, not afraid of the water, have "swam" for 30 years now....and couldn't get my kick, stroke and breath coordinated correctly.  It was the great battle of knowledge vs. ability.  I understood what she was explaining, it made sense, I knew what to do but now it was teaching my body to respond in that way, and that was frustrating. There was actually a moment in there when I really wanted to just slink away out of the pool and hope she wouldn't notice.
But I kept going. 45 minutes later I had a better understanding of not only breath sequencing for freestyle, but also the rhythm for breast stroke.  It will take many hours of practice, but I think I might get it.

How can this apply to adults learning piano.  Once again its the struggle of knowledge vs. ability.  Adults are intelligent, logical beings that understand the words written in the book, the words coming out of the teachers' mouths, but now have to teach their fingers, hands, wrists and arms to respond correctly.  Wow. That's an undertaking, and one that will be laced with feelings of inadequacy, frustration, embarrassment and discouragement.  I hope that I can learn how to empathize with future adult students and help them work through those emotions and fears to experience success like my swim instructor did for me today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Question and Answer Time!

Question and Answer time! Here are some recent ones:

           How old should my child be to start piano lessons?

The easy answer is kindergarten or 1st grade.  The reason that this answer is given so often is because by kindergarten/1st grade, children are expected to be able to sit for 20-30 minutes at a time and can follow simple instructions.
The more difficult answer is, it depends on the child, the parent, the desire, the ability, the amount of time to practice. To determine that, let's talk the blog. :)

           I feel my children's piano teacher is rushing off to go to an appointment, so if the lessons are running behind and my kids' lessons are at the end of the day and they're still finishing on time, they aren't getting the 30 minute lesson that I'm paying for.  How would you approach this or bring it up without offending?

> A direct way would be to ask if the teacher could please begin the lesson closer to the starting time.
> A less direct approach would be to ask if the teacher thought the prescribed 30 minute block of time was enough for your child's lesson.  This might clue the teacher in to the fact that she's not actually spending 30 minutes with them teaching.  If he/she doesn't follow the clue, follow up by saying that when other lessons run over into your kids' time, then they aren't getting the full 30 minutes.  You can add that you feel like your child needs the full 30 minutes in order to grasp the new concepts each week.
> Another option would be to arrive promptly at your next scheduled lesson and stand somewhere visible to the teacher from the time that your child's lesson should begin.  When its finally time for your time slot, mention that the lessons seem to be right on top of each other and suggest that she builds a 5 minute window of time into her schedule between lessons for transition time.

                Is it ok to only own a keyboard and not a real piano?

Hmm... that's a tough one.  In fact, I wrote a whole post about it here.  Check it out!

                Are there any music game websites for kids? 

Why yes, yes there are!  Here are some of my favorites:

If you have any music related questions, let me know! If I don't know the answer, I bet I can find someone who does!