Thursday, April 2, 2009

piano lessons

Bug to his carpool buddy: "I'm going to take piano lessons. I already know how to play though. Mostly I play classical." (12/08)

After much delay, we have started Bug in piano lessons. It'll be a busy spring with t-ball too. I'm usually a strong enforcer of the one-activity-at-a-time rule. However, piano counts as academic, and I'm letting Pook do chess club for that reason (same day and time for the chess and piano which might help.)

He will be her youngest pupil. She was a bit reluctant to start him, so I'm crossing my fingers that his enthusiasm will be contagious. He's so close to being able to read that he'll learn to read music and words simultaneously.

He's been asking to play for ages. Pook, while he enjoys good music, was never interested in piano lessons, but Bug has always wanted to play some type of music. He's really aiming for the tuba, possibly a trombone or trumpet, maybe even a string bass, but he's accepted that piano is the way to start. "When I'm really big, like in fourth grade, I can play another instrument." The county starts kids with musical instruments at school early, which is great. I have a few years yet to soundproof a room.

He got adjusted on the piano bench and was introduced to oreo cookies first. He was asked to find all the cookies and to touch the frosting. (pairs of black keys with the D in between). Then she introduced the C Family: Mother C in the middle with Father C and Brother C and their lower voices, and Sister C and Baby C who have higher voices. He found them, labeled them and played them up and down a few times. Then she introduced the neighbors, the G Family. He met Grandmother G, Grandfather G, Top G who stands on her head and Bottom Line G. (He didn't find out why Bottom Line G has his name yet). She gave him little cards with the family members drawn out so he could place them on our piano at home. And 45 minutes were up!

He was a bit wiggly and had to be asked to pay attention several times, but it wasn't a problem. We'll see if it improves as he gets used to the room and sights, or if he gets comfortable around her and more wiggly. He was told to practice twice a day for now, just finding the families and playing them up and down and mixed up.

Practice. Not good. I got him to the piano once pretty easily, but only for a few minutes. The second time was edging into bribe territory, which bothers me. Either he does this or he doesn't, but I don't want to have something else to fuss at him to do. Getting the kid dressed and out the door involves enough fussing around here. He still brings home "homework" from his school although I quit having him do it after the winter holidays. It isn't required, he knows his letters and numbers (although the writing of them would have been useful) but I was just so tired of the fussing. Next year in kindergarten homework won't be optional anymore. So, Internet. Anyone have suggestions for making required piano practice pleasant?

1 comment:

  1. We haven't had the practice issue with AJ yet. But with my violin students, especially younger ones, I tell them to practice very little very frequently. With violin, because it has to come out of the case, be tuned, and be put away, I usually say "Tune it every day. If you feel like playing some more, go ahead. But make sure you tune it every day." 99% of the time, they tune it and then want to play. With piano, you have the advantage that the instrument is already ready. So maybe just do 5 minutes at a time. You could even set a timer if that helps. I wouldn't worry too much about productivity of the practice session. Just getting him to sit down at the bench and put his fingers on the keys and have fun should be the goal at the moment. Have him invent his own songs. Race his fingers up and down the keyboard. Try matching games where you play patterns and he has to play them back. Then let him try to stump you. Do silly things as well as whatever his teacher has assigned. But if he really doesn't want to practice, don't push too hard. That can kill his enthusiasm. And maybe piano isn't his instrument. It doesn't mean he won't excel at something he's more excited about later on. I taught AJ violin starting around age 3 or 4. He never really got into it. He liked the idea of it, but it wasn't really for him. Piano is different. I think it's partly that he's older but also that the instrument is a better fit to his interests. He loves it and it's more likely that I have to ask him to stop practicing than to get started. Loving it is the first order of business. The rest of it will come.