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Is this to be expected for a 6 yr old who has just started piano lessons?

(14 Posts)
thinkingmakesitso Sun 18-Oct-15 12:47:57

He has 30 minutes shared teaching at school, but this is supplemented 5 times a week by his father, who is a musician. Ex uses the same book that the teacher uses with him. While ds is keen, and seems to do well within each 'lesson', he seems to have no memory of what he has done when it comes to the next session. He does a lot of guessing and does not seem to be learning the notes etc.

He has been learning since September, so surely some of it should be 'sticking' by now? He is doing well at school and doesn't usually struggle to learn new things, though concentration/ interest in the subject can vary. However, he does seem keen to do this so not sure that that is the problem.

Any tips would be great.

mintbiscuit Sun 18-Oct-15 12:53:41

Is he really keen or does he do it to please his dad? Only reason I say that is because ds1 took up XP's hobby just to please him and has no interest in it when he comes back from visiting his dad!

Mistigri Sun 18-Oct-15 13:03:45

Is his father maybe going too fast and not allowing enough time to reinforce the basics?

Ferguson Sun 18-Oct-15 19:41:29

But since September is only a MONTH!

What books are they using? At age 6 I would have thought they should only be doing musical 'games', so notes that sound higher, lower, louder, softer. Or two notes when played together sound NICE, or sound HORRID.

If they are trying to learn notes on the staff, that is probably going to be pretty meaningless after only a month.

If he can find 'Middle C', then play all the other Cs, going up and down the piano, and LISTEN to the notes and think, what is the difference between them, and what is similar.

Just as in Reception they start to learn through PLAY, I think music should be approached in a similar way.

Fleurdelise Mon 19-Oct-15 08:01:26

My DD (now 8 yo) also started at 6 and I realised from the beginning that piano lessons need a lot of parental support at that age. Luckily Dd's teacher asked me to stay in lessons so I can reinforce the same requests in home practice.

While she was very keen she was forgetting what was required to practice the second she was out of the door of the teacher's house.

So even though the teacher is writing in her diary what she needs to practice DD still needs reminding on how to practice a certain new concept.

I would say it is pretty common for kids this young to forget quickly what they learnt and only daily practiced supervised by an adult who reminds them what they need to do will make them progress.

It has only been a month so you need patience and practice, you'll see the progress 6 months down the line.

dodobookends Mon 19-Oct-15 09:41:29

Perhaps his dad just needs to supervise him practicing what the teacher has set rather than teaching anything himself?

Tarzanlovesgaby Mon 19-Oct-15 09:57:55

ime - normal
attention span is still short at that age. plus after a month and a bit and half hours shared not much will be achieved in that time.

ShellingPeasAgain Mon 19-Oct-15 20:54:02

TBH after half a term of lessons most of my 6 year old students would still be learning how to keep a steady pulse, finding their way around the keyboard, learning things by ear and rote, and probably know how to recognise rhythm values but not recognise notes on the stave. I don't do a lot of note reading at this stage. Instead I play games and off stave work so the kids are looking at directional reading (e.g. are the notes moving higher/lower and does the pitch sound higher/lower) rather than trying to decipher reading all those dots and lines on the page and calling them A, B, C etc.

Has he tried improvising e.g. set a rhythm pattern and a limited number of notes and make up his own tune? Then you can get him to 'notate' it by drawing shapes higher and lower.

2ndSopranosRule Mon 02-Nov-15 15:27:19

Dd1 has been having lessons for just under two years and it's only recently that it's started to stick, in particular reading the bass clef. Her teacher has been careful not to bamboozle her while at the same time give her a very solid foundation. She has a 45-minute lesson and practices 3/4 times a week for 10/15 minutes. She could do more I'm sure but that what she's happy doing. It's taken her time to learn how to practice too. She was playing chords the other day (root - first inversion - second inversion) and was driving herself mad because she could hear there was something wrong with the second inversion chord but couldn't work out why. When she did that light bulb moment was great! She's just turned 8 and I play too so can support her.

We're hoping that she'll do her Grade 1 next year.

Ferguson Mon 02-Nov-15 19:04:17

The trouble is, music is often taught like some schools teach maths; children are told WHAT to do, without any explanation of WHY! So they end up with no real UNDERSTANDING.

So 2ndSopranosRule, has it been explained WHERE chords and harmony come from? That they are a natural phenomenon that occurs when a string, or column of air in a wind instrument, vibrates in certain ways, along its full length, or divides in half, quarters etc to produce the same note but at higher octaves, plus, of course, partials for 'in between' notes.

Many years ago, I thought it was just rules dreamed up in Italy, four or five hundred years ago, until I leaned that Music is always subject to the laws of PHYSICS.

Also, it is commonly thought bass clef, is 'different' from treble clef, when in reality each is just a different portion of the Grand Clef.

Goodness: I would have thought that a properly-taught pupil could easily do Grade 1 in a year; ours did, aged 7 or 8.

ShellingPeasAgain Mon 02-Nov-15 20:54:08

Ferguson "Goodness: I would have thought that a properly-taught pupil could easily do Grade 1 in a year; ours did, aged 7 or 8."

I'm sorry have to disagree with that. EPTA and MU surveys have shown that the average time for a beginner, starting at 7, to get to grade 1 is 2 years. Just because your child did grade 1 in a year doesn't mean that everyone else's child can - sometimes things kick in after a year or two, and then they fly, sometimes it just never does. I've some kids who won't ever make grade 1 because of co-ordination issues or other learning difficulties. I've some students who could be really able but still won't do grade 1 in a year because they don't practise, or parents don't supervise practise, they have a rubbish instrument at home, or even none at all!

The rush to grade 1 in the shortest possible time is bonkers. A good, steady, solid foundation to understand the basics is essential. I've had far too many transfer students who've reached grade 3 but can't hold a steady pulse, have no idea how rhythms work (ooh, a quaver, that means faster doesn't it) or even really recognise the pitches of music and how to read by intervals. They've all been taught by rote and repetition and have no connection with the dots on the page to how the music sounds.

2Sopranos sounds like your DD is doing great and if she can hear that it's not right then she's well on the way to understanding music, not just regurgitating it.

Ferguson Mon 02-Nov-15 23:09:54

SPA - perhaps I should have explained our DS had been 'playing' on our Yamaha organ from a year old; at age 2, I put letter stickers on the bass pedals, so he would sit on the floor to press the pedal I requested, while I played the manuals. Being exposed to music making from an early age obviously isn't available to most children.

By 4 or 5 he was starting to play simple tunes, and I suspect the automatic-rhythms helped to give him an accurate sense of time. (He went on to do GCSE and A level music, played alto sax in his school band, in the County youth jazz orchestra, and got Distinction Grade 8 on sax.)

2ndSopranosRule Wed 04-Nov-15 16:37:50

Um, no, we're not onto the laws of physics and their application to music just yet hmm. She's only just turned 8 and likes making sounds which is good enough for me.

She's also going to be doing Grade 1 violin in 2016 too having started in October 2014. I'm convinced a year of piano and theory - she's also working at Grade 1 theory level too - has made things make much more sense.

A few months before she started piano she picked up a vocal score of the Rossini Stabat Mater and clapped the rhythm of the start of one of the chorus sections. I've no idea how she figured that out.

Nicola Benedetti she isn't, but I'm chuffed at the progress she's made in a relatively short time.

Currently she's transposing one of her Grade 1 violin pieces for fun hmm.

Ferguson Wed 04-Nov-15 19:20:19

Personally, I would have thought at eight she could start to understand that there are 'reasons' why some intervals or combinations of notes sound nicer than others, and I guess violin can illustrate that quite well, though it is probably easier to 'visualise' it on piano or keyboard.

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