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Music teachers - how do you deal with discipline and young children?

(15 Posts)
maggiethecat Sat 23-May-09 23:20:39

5 yr old dd has been learning violin for just under a year and is enjoying it. Problem is that she's recently begun to ignore her teacher's instructions.

Today for example, teacher tried to correct dd's violin hold and dd just merrily continued playing despite being told to stop - was almost as if she did not hear a word that was said. Or she would interrupt teacher's instructions with her own thoughts on the matter at hand. I was furious today and altho my policy is to be invisible in the class I was tempted to halt proceedings.

We do teach general good manners and courtesy and I would say that her behaviour is not malicious but her big problem is that she struggles to listen. At bedtime tonight I discussed the matter with her and she confessed to being too excited and wanting to do things her way!

How do you deal with discipline and young children?

stillenacht Sat 23-May-09 23:25:59

I teach piano to children aged 7-15 atm. I have a couple of younger pupils whose concentration often wanders ...as a teacher you just have to go with them for a few moments and then bring them back..its not difficult..i always ask how they are, are they doing anything nice over the weekend/holidays etc as at such a young age they can't be expected to concentrate without any interest shown in them for half an hour even.

I am a firm believer that at such a young age they need a lot of extrinsic motivation to want to carry on learning. Intrinsic motivation may be there but will develop later.

maggiethecat Sat 23-May-09 23:54:50

I know it's difficult. Problem is that it never used to be such a problem and I wonder if she has just got a bit too comfortable with her teacher who is very kind and friendly.

I don't want to dampen dd's general enthusiasm and expressiveness but there must be a balance or else having lessons is pointless and I have mentioned to her the possibility of suspending for a while if she continues like this.

In her own defence she piped up tonight that she did listen to teacher once when she was being taught new notes on the E string!

stillenacht Sat 23-May-09 23:59:43

she is only 5 though. Sorry if this sounds rude but 'suspending lessons'??...

Its a good thing that she is comfortable with the teacher as a relationship will develop where your daughter will want to work for the teacher and produce good results i am sure.

Personally i will not teach children younger than 7 as i do not think for the majority of children they are ready to learn an instrument in the way the parents want at a younger age than that.

maggiethecat Sun 24-May-09 00:23:11

To give her a break from the class until she matures a bit. I think she will settle down eventually.

Although she is very able and learns very quickly I think I agree with the reason for your age policy.

thirtypence Sun 24-May-09 07:13:56

I teach lots of littlies and very often the parents are much more mortified than I am annoyed by their child's perfectly normal behaviour.

I have a year 6 child whose parent yelled across the room last week "You are not listening. Stop being so rude." I was very grateful to him for intervening as the boy had just got himself into such an excited state that even me stopping talking in the middle of a sentence until he stopped fiddling around on the keys wasn't helping much. So simply getting older is not always a solution.

My ds is age 6 and has learnt the cello since he was 3. Sometimes his teacher will let him fiddle and change tack to fit with what he is doing - and other times she will pull him up and redirect things to her way. I guess it depends on what she wants to achieve.

I have made a deal with a couple of the under 7s that they do what I ask for the next 5 minutes (may stretch to 10 if I can) and then they can play me any piece they want for 1 minute. This breaks the lesson up and gives them some control.

Another thing that really helps is only giving 20 minute lessons to this age group, and having the same settling activities - like a stretch, a rhyme about the finger numbers and a rhythm game.

maggiethecat Sun 24-May-09 17:53:55

Thirtyp, that is exactly how I felt in the last lesson. I think I was more concerned at her rudeness than the fact that she was not learning at that moment. But perhaps my reaction is misplaced given her age.

I have posted on another thread about general listening and I think working on this may help her all around.

thirtypence Sun 24-May-09 21:04:42

A gifted violin student in year 4 (not my student for violin - I was teaching him another subject) came out with a whole stream of mild obscenities for no real reason. I think at this age you have to separate the rather random behaviour of the child from their musical ability.

With a couple of students they use silliness to use up the lesson as they think they will make mistakes and they try really hard and make a mistake they would get upset. Once I do actually get them to achieve, they look surprised and delighted and are then keen to try again.

The psychology of it all is fascinating really.

maggiethecat Sun 24-May-09 22:03:30

Still trying to figure my little one out. She def does not like to make mistakes and is in fact quite competitive. I once remarked at how beautiful her teacher had played during one of their duets. Dd huffed that I thought that her teacher played better than her (why on earth would she think that?!)

Your method of reward sounds brilliant. Teacher has allowed dd to choose piece at the end of term as a treat (she loves clown dance and ringing bells which she learned soon after starting and jumps at the chance to play either). Don't want to tell teacher how to do her job though.

I think that dd regards any instruction as a form of criticism despite fact that teacher lavishes praise on her.

I wonder if she may be using her silliness to pass the time away as well...

When she concentrates though she does very well and is not even put off by her teacher's part in a piece they may be playing together.

I think I may need to chill a bit, but will have a go at improving her general listening.

thirtypence Mon 25-May-09 01:47:41

I did ask ds's teacher not to mention being tired after school - because he did latch onto that as an excuse for any mistakes "it's because I am sooooooooooooooo tired".

One she stopped mentioning it - he stopped using it as an excuse.

I have another student (they all have different little tricks) who always blames me, "I thought you said start there" or "You never told me what that means" or "I've never seen that before." To which I now calmly reply "I did tell you just now that was a D and it's okay that you forgot, if you remember next time I'll give you a sticker."

Any mention of a sticker and she would remember the order of sharps and flats and recite them backwards standing on her head.

maggiethecat Mon 25-May-09 09:04:23

Sounds like you don't mind parental suggestions.

Again, I don't want to tell teacher how to do her job and so would not directly suggest reward tack.

But I think I'll just mention my concern and enquire about how she normally deals with this issue (I know she has a few other young ones). What do you think?

stillenacht Mon 25-May-09 09:12:45

I agree that you need to chill a bit. My son is 9 and been learning the recorder and trumpet for two years - he has just really 'got it' with regards to reading the notes...its has taken two years tho.smile

maggiethecat Mon 25-May-09 15:24:34

Thanks Stillenacht. She had a practice a short while ago and she listened at times and just did her own thing at others.

But as thirtyp suggested I let her have a few moments of doing her own thing (part of which was to play fast and furious the highest notes she could achieve on E string just to wake daddy up - dad lifted his head up, opened one eye and said 'good playing!' - dd and I were hysterical!).

stillenacht Mon 25-May-09 19:03:48

I always include a little 'composition' time in my lessons where the pupils can play things they have made up for me - i think its really important smile

Everhopeful Tue 16-Jun-09 00:08:59

My dd is in church choir (so am I) and recently her behaviour has been very bad, so I asked her if she wanted to leave. She said she did, but we've talked to the choirmaster and he's offered her several options - I'm waiting to see what happens. Reading some stuff here has helped: she is only 7 fgs and I guess she does need more attention than the others get. Trouble is, her boyfriend grin is just that bit older and very musical into the bargain, so great at discipline in these circs and that's made me think she can be the same as him. Thanks for making me chill a bit (still hope she's going to stick with it tho hmm!)

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