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#28486 - 06/14/04 11:18 PM Troubled student
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
I have a student whose mother INSISTED that I take her. She's almost 5...a lot younger than I usually start. I used to teach her brother who has since moved on to other things. After months and months of begging me to take her, I gave in. (I posted about this a few months ago) Anyway, I have been teaching her for about a month now. I put her in Music for Little Mozarts. I used it with a six year old student who I started in October and have found it to be wonderful with her! I wasn't sure about the series before, but the 6 year old has done extremely well.
Back to the 4 year old...
She started MFLM and we do two songs a week. It's tough to get her to do any more than that. She is having serious problems with finger numbers and I wonder if there may be something else I could do with her. Another method? Group lessons instead? Games? Anything helps!! Thanks in advance!

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#28487 - 06/15/04 04:19 AM Re: Troubled student
pianoc Offline
Star Member

Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 1088
Loc: Goshen, Indiana
I took on a 4 year old boy a couple of years ago. His parents really wanted him in some kind of music - but didn't want to go to the Kindermusik type classes.

I agreed to try - we did a trial 6 months.

He took about 2 songs a week, but we often had to keep those same songs also.

I don't know whether or not to call this a success or not - so I don't know if my suggestions will help you or not.

We did lots of marching to music, lots of clapping - I use hand percussion instruments also.

I pulled out the first few chapters of every method book I own from the activity/theory pages for him to do.

He loved it - but we really didn't progress very far.

His mother said that she could see a different reaction to any music after working with me - positive. She also liked how much he tried out different melodies on the piano at home now instead of banging on it.

So they felt like it was worth it - even though we all agreed at the end of 6 months that to actually learn how to play the piano would probably be better for him to wait another year or two.

I think in your case, if you tried to put this off and the mother begged, I hope you're not going to try and teach what you didn't really think you could teach in the beginning.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new series Faber's are working on for these younger kids. I really enjoy working with little kids, just haven't had a lot of success, or pushed it, with the piano.

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#28488 - 06/15/04 08:01 AM Re: Troubled student
minuet Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 47
Loc: North Carolina
I have also been pressured into taking on little ones who were too young. At the time I took them on I didn't know what I was getting into. I used the Bastien "Piano Party" series and it was pretty good as far as repetition. We had to review a lot, though and insistent parents made it frustrating and had me trying everything to get lessons to work for their child. One parent was quite understanding and actually agreed to wait a year or so until the child's attention span was better. The youngest age I take on now is six, and that seems to work best in my situation. This probably did not help much, but hang in there :p

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#28489 - 06/15/04 08:04 AM Re: Troubled student
alidoremi Online   content
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2114
Loc: California
Four and five year olds need a method that is not 'repertoire-focused', meaning that accomplishment is not measured by how many songs the student learns to play. This age group benefits more from singing, movement, and experiencing a variety of rhythm instruments. Piano repertoire is only a small part of the total musical experience. For these kids a group atmosphere is often more productive than the traditional one-on-one lesson format.

You could easily incorporate the above-mentioned activities in your Music For Little Mozarts curriculum, add two more students, and that might make all the difference. One of the writers for MFLM (Christine Barden) helped write curriculum for the Yamaha Music Course (a group program) back in the 80's.

Here are some other piano-focused group methods for young children:
http://www.harmonyroadmusic.com/
http://www.yamaha.com/
http://www.myc.com/


I start kids at age 4 1/2 (boys often need to wait until they are 5... I'm sure you'll agree ;). You can have success teaching this age group, it all depends on the method used.

[ 06-15-2004: Message edited by: alidoremi ]

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#28490 - 06/15/04 08:14 AM Re: Troubled student
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
I would agree with ali. Back off from focusing on learning songs and teaching out of a book. At her age, you might spend WEEKS on a concept such as finger numbers.

The trick for a 4 year old is to come up with games that are a variation on the concept you are teaching. So, for example, for finger numbers you would need to have 5-6 games in your arsenal that you spread out over a long period.

A "good" lesson for a 4 year old might include 4-6 games in a 30-minute lesson that cover different concepts. Stuff like high-low, slow-fast, right-left, finger numbers in addition to singing and other games. You need to break it down, come up with variations for each activity, and then decide what order to teach it in.

Technically, a 4 is a lot different than a 5 or 6. Many can only manage to grasp a jumbo crayon like a monkey, so writing activities (other than circling) can be out. If you're asking her to write stuff, that could be part of the problem - it's hard and tires them out. They need more manipulatives at this point Also, she probably needs to be playing with a braced hand or fingers. If the music you're using doesn't reflect that, then back off.

That's just some details off the top of my head. Hope it helps a little! \:\)

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#28491 - 06/15/04 09:38 AM Re: Troubled student
unreal Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 06/23/03
Posts: 944
Loc: CA
Hi there, I've suggested Martha Beth's website before, and have had success using her suggestions with the few little-bitty kids I've tried this with--two 4 1/2-year old girls and two 5-year old boys. Not much experience, but so far so good.
http://www.serve.com/marbeth/teaching_notereading.html

And
http://www.serve.com/marbeth/special_needs_young_children.html

I made up little songs, no longer than 4 measures each, and using only 1, 2 or 3 different notes (repeats first, then steps, and finally skips) and printed them with a score-writing program. I also made an activity book where I would print a whole or half note D and the directions say "draw 3 more D's," or print C D E and say "draw a circle around the C," really simple stuff. I also made alphabet card games ala Martha Beth and the "flyswatter" and “Skittles” games mentioned elsewhere on this PA site, and we started on “tah” counting.

You can use these in conjunction with MFLM and teach her “Twinkle” by rote, 2 measures a week. Spend as many weeks as you need to learn each little thing. You must insist that a parent attend lessons and practice with the child, probably for at least a year. Practicing will only be about 5-10 minutes a day, so plan for that short time. Two songs is plenty in a week, and she will play them for several weeks. Overall, she will move along VERY slowly, but in a FUN way, until around 6 or 7, when she will take off in the second half of PA Primer and breeze right through. She probably won't be playing music more difficult than other kids her age who just started, but she will be attached to you, comfortable at the piano, and she will feel like she is a pianist.

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#28492 - 06/15/04 09:57 PM Re: Troubled student
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
Thank you so much fore everything!
PianoC: The reason I didn't want to take her in the first place was that I felt she was too young and didn't have the attention span for it. I have taught young kids before, but never under 5. I am learning a lot though from working with her.
Her theory activities are basically circling and listening activities. She never has to write anything. I know that the writing muscles are not developed enough and it does take a lot of energy.

I will look into the other method books and see what I could use from them to supplement her lessons. I don't mind taking her at a slower pace at all. I was mainly concerned because MFLM was lacking in other things aside from repertoire that she needs at her age. There are listening and singing activities, but they haven't worked for her. Thank you for everything and keep your ideas coming! I'll be out of town all weekend looking for an apt for my newly hired bf \:\) , but I'll be back Sun or Mon. Thank you again!

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#28493 - 06/16/04 08:31 AM Re: Troubled student
alidoremi Online   content
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2114
Loc: California
 Quote:
There are listening and singing activities, but they haven't worked for her.


Singing activities usually work better in a group atmosphere, either with Mom there or with 2 or 3 other kids. It's amazing how much the kids feed off of each other and learn from each other. Doesn't MFLM suggest teaching 2-3 kids at a time?

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#28494 - 06/16/04 10:07 AM Re: Troubled student
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
I haven't had any trouble with singing activities at all in a private lesson setting. Something that has made it really fun is using those little fake Barbie microphones. You can get them at places like Target or Walmart for under $5.

Something to remember with 4 year olds is that they often have not been one-on-one with an adult for something like this. It can take awhile for them to warm up to the situation. If you have a stuffed teddy bear or other critter that could be part of the lesson, that can help. 4 year olds often like to boss thangs, so you could even let her be the teacher to Teddy, stuff like that.

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#28495 - 06/16/04 10:42 PM Re: Troubled student
KeyboardKandyce Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 118
Loc: Ca
(internet in hotel...yay!)

Her mother wants private lessons so that eliminates the group atmosphere. I am, however, holding a piano camp at the end of July where they will be in groups, so we can do things like that there.

Cute ideas, Lisa! I think I will try the teddy bear. I'll go shopping at the huge mall across the street while bf is at meeting in the morning. :-) It gives me an excuse to go shopping! I think she would really react to that. Thanks!

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