The light-bulb moment
April 2019 was a month of breakthroughs in piano class. Some of my students had been struggling with things that should have been easy for them, and it took them months to reach that light-bulb moment when everything just fell into place.
A solution so simple and easy to understand, and yet, something that these particular students could only understand after a lot of struggle.
The practise of LEARNING.
My answer to that is Yes and No.
Because young children learn rhythm and scales while doing a lot of fun activities. Every young child has heard do, re, mi, etc, in ‘The Sound of Music,’ so learning to play scales is exciting for the young piano student (see What practising scales is good for). Students get a huge boost, when their teacher tells them that their practise has been well done.
Children who get the support they need at home, and whose parents work with the piano teacher (see Why parents should talk to the piano teacher about practise issues before the class starts) enjoy the challenge of trying something that’s new and a bit of a challenge.
Because the young piano student often wants to progress quick or learn repertoire that older or more advanced students children play, and this means diligent practise. Children tend to associate fun with quick fixes and things that are easy to do & the average child just won’t practise regularly without parent support at home.
A young piano student does a lot of things that need effort :
- Hand coordination often needs focus and effort.
- Learning to relax the hand while playing may need regular practise & attention to hand position & playing gently. This is difficult for students of all ages, but especially so for young children who may have tension when using their hands for other activities too. For example, pressing the pencil very very hard while writing in their school books.
- Daily practise needs a regular after-school routine and all children need help with this
- Piano students have to listen, think & pay attention while practising. They need to be able to answer questions asked in different ways at each class.
The last is something many children struggle with during the first year of piano class. Because many children have learned to answer questions by memorising pre-written answers in school, and don't have enough activities like reading & playing language games with friends or family, that make up for the lack in school.
Parents play a very important role in providing the kind of support a child needs to practise well at home. Each child is different in their levels of independence and the kind of goals they have, so the level of parent support required varies from child to child.
‘Parents thinking a child can practise alone, is a major reason why children stop piano study’ .. i quote here, from a blog by the Vahl Piano Studio.
The blog makes an interesting point, that students give up, because they can’t progress.. because they don’t practise enough to learn something new every time..
That when parents assume their children will practise on their own, it mostly just leads to a child quitting.
That children need help in scheduling practise and in keeping to the schedule. They also need to be reminded to practise all the homework given, because left to themselves, they often forget to do quite a bit. That it is the parents who help their child, who, i quote ‘cultivate a student who is committed for the long term.’
The blog is worth a read and explains how parents can help their child. I won’t repeat what’s written, simply because its written so well – here it is for you to read ‘Why students stop piano study