When thinking is an effort at age 8 to 13
These children come to piano class and learn the theory and technique that’s necessary to play a piece. Then the piece starts to sound good to them as it’s kind of put together from beginning to end. So, they then start to practise by repetition, mind shut to such an extent, that they have totally forgotten the theory and technique (though they play correctly). They’re totally blank and can’t answer basic theory questions. They can’t even recall what was taught earlier – even simple basic stuff.
When I first started teaching in Andheri (Mumbai), my first batch of students did not practise. They had such excellent memories that they could and did in the beginning, fool me into thinking they’d done their work. Until I learned to understand their abilities and assess their work accordingly.
I mainly taught in Bandra (Mumbai) from 2011 to 2015, but took on a few students in Khargar off and on. I had a few students in Bandra who could not think and I wrote a post about it ‘Coping with the over-scheduled child in piano class’
I still have a couple of students in Bandra, but I teach full-time in Khargar. Teachers in different parts of the world are seeing an increasing number of students who can’t think and reason.
If it were just piano class, it would be fine, because piano teachers don't expect all kids to have developed musical skills. But I knew my students well and talking to parents makes me realise that it was not just piano class where this happened.
Lessons from the monsoon madness
This year in July, all my 9 year olds and one 12 year old had a mental shutdown. I was teaching to blank faces from students who, until now, had been progressing well. They’re beginners who have been with me for about a year.
My students who could sit perfectly still earlier, were fidgeting and needed lots of off the bench activities. They were fidgety at home too, and talking to their Mum’s made me realise that the unusually heavy monsoon took away their play time, so they had no activity.
I asked one student’s parents to enrol their child in a hobby class with sports activity and there was a noticeable change within a few weeks. It got better with all of my students as the monsoon eased and they were able to get back to physical activity – regular play or sports classes.
A quick fix to get your child thinking – in and out of piano class
Just get children moving. If your child’s play time does not have enough physical activity, then a sports related hobby class or a 1 hour walk 3 days a week works fine.
I’m really amazed that something so simple worked!
That even during the weeks of poor practise, these students could remember what was done earlier and could demonstrate it and explain it to me.