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 wrong repeatedly. When this child is asked to point out the note he/she is talking about, it becomes clear that the student know his/her stuff, but is just not able to focus on where the teacher is pointing. It’s the same with verbal & written instructions.
Piano teachers are seeing a lot more children like this in recent years, more than ever before.
The first year of piano class
This student has difficulty paying attention from the very first class and it often takes the teacher a few classes to figure out the problem. What is required, is a lot of patience on the part of the piano teacher, as well as knowledge on how to approach a topic in different ways, to get this child’s attention.
Practise at home needs parent support and a daily home routine is very essential for this student to do well, both at school and at piano class.
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.
All this child needs is a reasonable amount of time spend with his/her parents, play time, plus a routine and structure to the day – what his/her parents generation got because it’s the way things were 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.
- They’re often so enthusiastic about playing the piano, that they come to class with a brain working on overtime with lots of different ideas.
Starting piano class with quiet activities like listening to music, writing out notes or playing a favourite piece can help these students quiet down their thoughts so they can focus on one thing at a time.
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 children up by playing upbeat music 15 minutes before their scheduled wake up time.
- Get rid of bed time blues by making it a time when parents & children listen to quiet music, while they go to sleep.
Children need to be able to play music on their own, and it’s worth investing in a reasonably priced music system that they can use.
Finding work life balance
Many busy parents seem to be able to balance work & family time, and give their children the time they need. But sadly, 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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