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#27708 - 04/18/03 08:19 AM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
It's hard to teach kids with seemingly fried brains. I don't know if it's because they really have learning disabilities or if it's because they're tired from being overscheduled or what... but I can tell you there's a big difference between my own children & my students in Costa Rica compared with the students here in Lubbock. I think it has to do with culture & schooling, primarily in the home. There's just no other way for me to explain why I never had to deal with such learning challenges before teaching in Lubbock. Surely it's not the water! ;\)

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#27709 - 04/19/03 08:16 AM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
CR Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
Bontempo and Jalapena,

you both have good points, and I can understand where you're coming from and all, since like I said, I have students who struggle and I along with them. But also speaking from experience, one my students that I had had for over a year and whom I was just about to terminate lessons with because no progress was being made, came to lesson one day and amazed me at how well she did. Seeing that faint spark of understanding at last, I didn't have to consider letting her go since I knew she had reached a point where she "gets it". It was a long and tedious trial, but so worth it. She's enjoying piano lessons more, and I am, too. \:\)
_________________________
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.
~S.Rachmaninoff~

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#27710 - 04/20/03 12:23 PM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
Bontempo Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
CR,

The experience you describe is just the "click" thing I was talking about. It DOES happen sometimes. It never ceases to amaze me when it does.

What I wonder is how far goes the teacher's contribution to that "click". Taking the case you mention as an example, were you always the "same" teacher for that student during the time when no progress was being done? Did you constantly try different approaches and finally got one she could grasp? Was it a problem of not working enough at home? Did you get any signs of an iminent change in attitude? Was it related to age? I think it would be instructive to discuss further this type of change. Music maker (where is she? \:\( ) mentioned that sometimes a personal change in the teacher can make all the difference.

---------------------------------------------

Jala, I personally deal all the time with this "fried brains" class of student. But that's not my main problem. My everyday struggle is to get them to work at home. I am positive that, if every student does his/her share of work at home, progress will happen. The majority of my good students in Portugal were students that worked at home and vice-versa. I always took some pleasure from teaching them.
I get the feeling that I'd rather have a medium-talented kid that practices 30 minutes per day than a potentially brilliant one that doesn't work. The latter is an exciting challenge, no doubt, but the former is much more gratifying. \:\)

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#27711 - 04/20/03 02:15 PM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
CR Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bontempo:
CR,

The experience you describe is just the "click" thing I was talking about. It DOES happen sometimes. It never ceases to amaze me when it does.

What I wonder is how far goes the teacher's contribution to that "click". Taking the case you mention as an example, were you always the "same" teacher for that student during the time when no progress was being done? Did you constantly try different approaches and finally got one she could grasp? Was it a problem of not working enough at home? Did you get any signs of an iminent change in attitude? Was it related to age? I think it would be instructive to discuss further this type of change. Music maker (where is she? \:\( ) mentioned that sometimes a personal change in the teacher can make all the difference.


Bontempo,

Thinking back, I didn't really change during that time of trying to bring her through the stage; I did continually try different approaches (thanks to the exceptionally helpful advice given on these very boards), hoping that one day she'd finally see the light. I don't recall any avail to them, though. Like I said, I was about to have a talk with her parent regarding the no-improvement matter when she came to her next lesson and just did great.

Perhaps she was told to practice more at home or something. Her attitude did change for the better, I observed. It might have been her age then - she was a 4th grader then; now in 6th grade. Although 6th graders do get moody, she's held her own pretty well I must say. She's mature for her age. Once the summer was over and the new school year began, she seemed to have had a really good music program at school because she'd come to lesson every week wanting to tell me what she'd learned at music class. I believe that placed a part in bringing about a maturness towards music, too.

I don't really see her change as something I necessarily played a big part in. I believe she just finally one day woke up and saw music is fun (when I first started her as a transfer student, her attitude was "I'm only doing this because mom/grandma wants me to". Now it's more "piano lessons are fun and not boring like it may seem. look at how much I'm learning!") Each teacher has something new to offer, and the teacher does make a difference in how the student responds to things. So having to continually drill and nag the student in being aware of everything and helping them to come to the understanding point does seem like an endless blackhole and no sign of hope anywhere, but even if you see the faintest glimmer of them coming to grasp a concept, I won't give up. My student whom I've used as an example did have the potential, but I wasn't looking hard enough. She's shown me without even knowing so that if I could get through at last to one student, then I surely can get through the other that seem *hopeless*. Patience is a definite must - for any kind of teacher. Just takes time (and patience :)). And what better time than now?
_________________________
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.
~S.Rachmaninoff~

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#27712 - 04/21/03 09:16 AM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
The student I let go had other problems, not just problems with piano. She couldn't do very simple addition, she used a digital watch to tell time, & she couldn't remember her work schedule (she works as a "salad person" in a restaurant where her father is the chef; I guess he makes sure she gets to work on time, etc.), & her mother described her as a "slow learner" (understatement of the decade, IMO). In music, she couldn't identify intervals, or tell if one note was higher or lower than the previous note, or even tell the difference between the top & the bottom of the page. I tried many different approaches, but nothing worked. In her case, I don't think it was because she wasn't trying. She seemed to enjoy lessons, & had a great personality. I didn't have any problems with her in that regard. Nice girl who, unfortunately, has some major LD that her mother will not tell me about (I won't get into the difficulties I had in dealing with the mother; I already covered that in another post). Suffice it to say, maybe if I knew what her LD is, I could help her; but knowing what I know about her, & after working with her for almost a year & not seeing any signs of progress, I've gone as far as I can go with her.

None of my other students had LDs. They just didn't use the brains that God gave them, either because they were lazy or because during lesson time they were tired from being overscheduled.

I didn't have problem students or parents in Costa Rica. Well, I take that back. I did have 1. Only 1 problem parent in all those years of teaching, with 20+ students per week. Not a bad track record, compared to all the problems I've had here in Lubbock. I can deal with problems when most of my clients are good. However, IMO all the joy goes out of teaching when 99% of the people you work with give problems.

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#27713 - 04/22/03 12:12 PM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
Piano lady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 361
I know there are students who just can't get it. Yet I will speak from personal experience here. When I was 26 and getting back to playing after a six year layoff, the teacher I had at the time had great credentials. I felt, and he felt that I just didn't have it. My confidence was at an all time low. I just wasn't getting it, even though I KNEW I could get it, because I had GOTTEN it before.

Then at one lesson, I thought he was going to terminate me, and he was leaving teaching to go into the ministry. Fine I had to find another teacher, and he got me an audition with one of his old teachers. With this teacher I got it when I walked in the door the first time. The chemistry was there. I think sometimes whether or not a student learns depends upon the chemistry with between the student and the teacher.

That other teacher? I don't even remember his name.

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#27714 - 04/22/03 01:41 PM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
It doesn't really matter much anymore. I'll not be teaching for a long while. I'm taking a long-overdue & much-deserved break. During that break, I'll continue practicing & studying for self improvement, & I'll continue teaching my own children. \:\) After a while, if I find that I miss working with problem parents & with students who are either completely clueless or as lazy as they come, :rolleyes: I'll go back to teaching. I have this feeling, however, that I'll miss it every chance I get. ;\) Time for me to go back to being a Domestic Goddess. \:D

[ 04-22-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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#27715 - 04/26/03 10:07 AM Re: Rebuilding a proper hand position
Bontempo Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 353
Loc: Belgium/Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeņa:
It doesn't really matter much anymore. I'll not be teaching for a long while. I'm taking a long-overdue & much-deserved break. During that break, I'll continue practicing & studying for self improvement, & I'll continue teaching my own children. \:\) After a while, if I find that I miss working with problem parents & with students who are either completely clueless or as lazy as they come, :rolleyes: I'll go back to teaching. I have this feeling, however, that I'll miss it every chance I get. ;\) Time for me to go back to being a Domestic Goddess. \:D

[ 04-22-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]



\:\( But be sure to continue connected to PT.com.

Don't know why, but I get the feeling that you're teaching in the wrong continent... ;\)

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