A brief glimpse of the teacher’s struggle
The piano teacher points to a note and asks the student to name it. The student answers correct, if you consider that he/she is looking at a note somewhere else, and answering. And it’s the same with written instructions like ‘Name the first note at the top left of the page.’
The teacher needs to ask this child to point out the note he/she is talking about, and will then see that her student knows everything but is just not paying attention, so is looking in the wrong place and answering. There’s a lot more kids like this in recent years.
The first year of piano class
This student had difficulty paying attention from the very first class and it took the teacher a few classes to figure out the problem. He/she needed very patient teaching, lots of questions, asked in different ways, so it got his/her attention.
Practise at home needed parent support and a daily home routine was very essential, and things improved. The student was doing very well, both at school and at piano class, until a month of busy, when the daily home routine fell into disarray.
Is it ADD
One might say that this student has some symptoms of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), only that there’s nothing wrong with this child. Apart from the fact that he/she needs the amount of parent time, play time, plus a routine and structure to the day, that most children of my generation had on a regular basis, because it was the way things were done then.
ADD and ADHD are real, and both teachers and parents need to be aware, to catch it. But when all it takes to get these kids to be super attentive, is a regular dose of old style parenting, my feeling is that not ADD, but a lifestyle issue.
Looking at the child in piano class
Many teachers and parents can make the mistake of thinking it’s a discipline problem, and may try to change the child’s behaviour by scolding, lecturing, shouting and punishing. A piano teacher often gets parents, who have already reached that point at which this is starting to happen at home.
And this does not work. It beats the child up inside, because this child is usually very sweet, cooperative and willing to try, if someone takes the time to look deep enough. It’s important that the piano teacher is patient, and gives the student time to open up, and then figure out how to get the student to move forward.
These students are talented, bright and interested, and often so enthusiastic about playing that they come to class with a brain working on overtime with lots of different ideas. Starting piano class listening to music made a big big difference, and helped these kids focus better.
The role of music in creating a mood.
Many of my young students are the first in their families to learn to play the piano and don’t have exposure to music at home. And that is a part of the problem with focus in piano class, and I think, a way forward. Because listening to music is a wonderful way to deal with moods and emotion and is very therapeutic.
It’s pretty simple to make listening to music a part of a child’s daily routine, and help parents with 2 important tasks that most parents struggle with –
- Wake up time – play upbeat music 15 minutes before scheduled wake up time
- Bed time – play quiet music before bed time
Children also need to be able to play music on their own, and it’s worth investing in a reasonably priced music system.
Today’s busy lifestyle and lack of family time puts kids under pressure. There are many working parents, who manage to find a balance, but there are a lot who don’t. A lot more children as compared to earlier, are being brought up by maids, while their parents are away at work. It’s putting pressure on children and it’s something we need to think about.
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