Do you want children so quick?

Do you want children so quick, or is it the pressure?

From family and friends who really should know better.

Who should let you do things at your own pace,

Take a little time so you have more savings and space. Continue reading Do you want children so quick?

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What young beginners learn in piano class

Brain gym in piano class

Playing the piano needs different parts of the brain to work together simultaneously.

Young piano students in their first year learn to :

  • Read written music and play the correct pitch & rhythm, at a steady pace with an appropriate tempo.
  • Play soft, loud, 46 brain-619060_640legato (joining the notes) or staccato (with notes detached).
  • Sing so they learn phrasing, and can identify mistakes in pitch.
  • Listen and hear what’s good and what needs to be worked on.
  • Accept correction even when their work is excellent. This is because standards of achievement need to move higher over time, for progress.
  • Practise on their own at home with parent support, growing more independent as they grow up.

Continue reading What young beginners learn in piano class

The Power of Reading — colbybryant.com

In a matter of days, my daughter will have finished the first grade. She has, by all accounts, done exceptionally well this past year, testing at two grades above her age. To say I’m proud is too quaint of an expression for how I feel. This is, no doubt, partly due to her wonderful teacher, […]

via The Power of Reading — colbybryant.com

Questions parents of young beginner piano students need to ask

Here’s a list of 8 questions that come up over the course of piano teaching. I’m addressing these answer’s specifically to the parents of my new beginner students.

1) Does my teaching approach suit the parent and child? Do the parent, student and teacher have the same goals?

Parents and students goals change over time, so these are questions I constantly asks myself. Because the teaching styles of different teachers are different, and there may come a time when the student needs a change.

I keep parents involved with what’s happening in piano class through comments in the homework book, emails and phone calls where necessary. When children give trouble or go through difficult phases relating to learning, I rely a lot on parent support, and this helps both me and the student, as it has a very very positive impact on learning.

Parents of young children who don’t wish to be involved in piano class and want their child’s learning to happen without any involvement at home, definitely need a teacher with a different approach.

2) How quick does the class progress?

This depends entirely on whether your child practises regularly or not. Children who practise get taught something new, and children who don’t practise, mostly revise work they’ve forgotten.

3) Should I correct my child’s practise mistakes?

The answer to this is a big big NO. Your child needs, from the first, to listen and correct his/her own mistakes. You may however help, by asking questions to make your child listen and think. For example :

“Did you play correct? Can you play it again, it sounds so good!” Your 5 year old child might say it was correct, even when it was wrong, but will play a second time and will automatically be paying more attention – is more likely to hear a mistake, and stop and correct it. Teacher’s correct mistakes and explain in class, so your child will learn to hear mistakes fairly quickly.

This approach eventually leads to really good – and independent learning.

4) What do I do when my child practises regularly, with great enthusiasm and committment, but practises WRONG?

Here’s when you need to talk to me – preferable on the phone, so your child can’t hear, and we can talk about what needs to be done to remedy this. I write instructions in the homework book, which you can help your young child read and follow, and will take up any special learning issues your child has.

5) Why do we need targets or goals?

Parents pay a fee in expectation that their child will learn, and the teacher spends valuable time on a student with the same hope. Setting targets helps the parent, student and teacher work towards a common end. The purpose of the target is not to put pressure on the student, and I say this very very emphatically!

Rather, it is to ensure that progress in piano class happens with absolutely no pressure, so the young student thinks of piano playing as a fun and relaxing thing to do.

6) Why does the parent need to be ‘around’ to implement practise. Can’t they just tell their child to ‘go practise’ or ‘get practise done’?

The piano is a very lonely instrument, unlike the violin or guitar, where students have more opportunities to play in groups. Young children whose parents implement practise by saying ‘play for me’ because -’ I love to hear you’ or ‘I find listening to you fun or relaxing’ usually have children who grow to love the routine of piano practise.

They develop a routine, because their parents taught them this, by being around every day. It surprises me, that even working mother’s are able to make time to do this..until I realise, it’s not just because they enjoy their child playing, though that’s a part of it.

More, it’s because they realise there’s long term value to their child’s musical development, and are willing to put in the regular effort that is necessary to help their child learn.

7) My child gets some things well and struggle with some others

Piano playing is a lot of learning. It takes time to work on a piece and get it right. Sometimes, children work very hard and it still takes time. If the homework book shows that 50% of your child’s work is good – your child is doing well.

As the level of difficulty increases, the pieces get harder, and your child grows up, results take more time. This is when your child and I the teacher, need your help – to reinforce the idea that even good students struggle.

In fact, the life of a pianist is a constant effort to be better – because learning never ends. What your child is now learning, is enjoy learning. To be confident in the face of a struggle – the struggle to learn. To be mature in the face of adversity, and to keep trying, even when things get tough. It is very true, that piano students learn skills in piano class that help them get through life.

8) Why is my child’s progress so slow?

It’s your child’s practise routine – or really, lack of it…..It often takes parents anything from 3 months to a year to realise that their young child needs help with practise – to schedule practise, and a daily routine, so that it’s not overly crowded with too many activities.

Children with very tight daily schedules get stressed and tend to learn very slow as a result. I’ve written about my overly scheduled students in ‘Coping with the over-scheduled child in piano class’

A warm welcome to all my new students and their parents – to the joy and the challenge of learning to play the piano.

“Children don’t need time”

“Just have a baby, put your child in a creche, and continue with what you were doing before you had a baby. That’s what I did…” That’s  what a friend said to me in an effort to pressure me into having a baby!

I just stared at her in total shock. I could see how neglected her child was, and was horrified at her advice.

As I write this, I’m a married woman in her 40’s who does not have a child. I have never been comfortable discussing ‘why’ I don’t have a child with anyone other than my family, doctors on a ‘need to know’ basis and a few trusted friends! So, mostly everyone does not really know the ‘why.’ I feel it’s a private matter and have, unlike a lot of other Indian women, always had the support of family in this.

Up until a few year ago, I’ve been accosted by people who want me to have a baby. I use the word ‘accosted,’ because they were generally very rude and angry and sometimes even offensive – ‘Who will look after you when you grow old” was their trump card, when all other attempts failed.

“You don’t believe in God that is why you are able to accept that you are never going to be a mother” from a neighbour who was upset that I wasn’t depressed about being childless!

I’ve had a family connection – a grown man with college going kids call me up and shout at me on the phone for not having a baby! … I’m putting this down to stress from his family problems!!

I’ve been to a funeral, standing battling emotion, paying my respects to the family of the deceased and been cross-questioned one of them about being childless! …. maybe some kind of mental instability could account for this ??

I will not mention the advice that I should try IVF (in-vitro fertilization) – something I personally disapprove of, because I feel the risk of birth defects or health problems for the child, with IVF and an older mother are much higher.

I personally think that if the God’s meant for me to be a mother, they’re powerful enough to make it happen. If they, in their wisdom, think otherwise, I will be grateful for all the other joys they have given me, and not ask for more.

I have had one caring friend tell me that her children are one of the greatest joys and also the greatest hardships of her life. And that despite the struggles she is grateful to have been blessed with her kids – that children need time, love and attention, and parents-to-be should know that and be prepared for the joy and commitment of being parents, before having children.

I think she had it right!