Lessons, Lessons

My daughter has learned an invaluable lesson. She has learned that she can fake her way through a piano lesson without having to practice, based on smarts, luck, and the fact that she's still a beginner and the lessons are still fairly easy. I don't want her to think she can go through life sailing by unprepared. I also don't want her to think she's stupid and needs to spend hours at the piano each day to master "Mary Had A Little Lamb." She loves the piano, she loves her teacher, she loves recitals, she hates to practice. History repeating itsef, I guess. I always hated to practice as a kid, too. How to get her to practice? Points worked for a while, but the novelty wore off, even though she can earn a toy after earning so many. I remember nothing that my mother tried that was successful in getting me to practice long term. And she tried many things. Maybe I was just supremely stubborn as a child. Advice would be greatly appreciated.


Blogger Alison said...

i don't do "rewards" for practice. its just something they have to do like homework or bathing. our piano teacher just asks that they run thru each piece once a day. if i feel one of them needs extra work, i will sit down with them and work on it together so they get that encouragement. otherwise they're ok with the 10-15 minutes it takes them. and honestly i don't expect them to be chopin or anything, just trying to work on consistency. like your daughter, they can skate thru and the teacher can't tell--yet.

8/23/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Timers work wonders....

8/23/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If nothing else, her wish to fly by the seat of her pants (musically speaking) will encourage her to become an excellent sight reader...

8/23/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kage said...

Oh Wizzy, that was me as a child, and I supremely regret it. I took lessons for at least 5 solid years (7-12 maybe?) and achieved without learning to read a note and practicing minimally...I think that meant I had skeelz. Finally in High School I realized I needed to read in order to have a music career, so I taught myself how to read music, and then in piano in college I made up for all the practicing I didn't do way back when.

So, maybe you can tell her that there is a chance she could be a music major some day and that she wouldn't want to be stuck in the practice rooms hour after hour trying to learn how to play (for your GPA), and miss out on all sorts of fun things to do when you are 18-22.

yeah, I got nothing.

8/23/2006 07:26:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Decide exactly what you want for her.
1. Her to practice on her own voluntarily only
2. Her to practice daily for a set amount of time dictated by you, even if she hates it
or, my choice
3. Set a very acheivable forced minimum and let her do more voluntarily.

I go for #3. I don't think it is necessary to practice a lot (I didn't, and my mother didn't make me which I appreciated). I don't want to spend my time making her practice. So, once or twice a week I "make" her by telling her she can't watch TV until she practices 10 minutes. Other times I tell her its time to two "do a responsibilities like homework, piano or chores (her choice)" and she often practices on her own other times. We are both happy.

8/23/2006 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

I have two friends who pay their kids money to practice. I'm not sure the going rate but one of my friends daughters voluntarily gets up at 5:30 a.m. to practice every day for 45 min. At 12 she is already an amazing pianist. So, money seems to motivate. As for our house (I refuse to pay for practicing) we are still trying to figure it out. My daughter doesn't enjoy practicing but I still make her do it about 5 days a week.... sometimes it's painful for all involved. But, I don't want her to quit because she BEGGED to start lessons and I think she should see it through for a few years. I begged my mom to quit and she wouldn't let me and now I'm so grateful!

8/23/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I teach piano, and I'm guessing the teacher knows your daughter isn't practicing...it's obvious, even for those like your daughter who think they're fooling the crazy piano teacher.
Some parents don't care if their kids practice or not. This sometimes turns some kids into excellent sightreaders, but more often produces kids who dislike piano and can't play.

For what it's worth, here are some ideas that work with most kids: throw out the timer, and work on goals: 3x in a row no mistakes, make up funny lyrics and sing them while playing, etc... Allow her to explore. Include listening to all kinds of music in practice time. Let her take a week off every so often. Give her chances to perform what she's practiced. (Go around the neighborhood and ask to give a mini-recital to everyone with a piano.)
Finally, it's normal to have highs and lows. Oh, yeah...and always praise. Make her think she is the best player ever! No matter what.

8/23/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I agree with what you said. As a piano teacher, too, I can ALWAYS tell when a kid's not practicing. Sadly, it happens a lot.

Unfortunately, too many parents allow their kids to "fake it", too. After years of dealing with it, I had to implement a new policy which has worked wonders: Any kid that shows up for a lesson that hasn't practiced (whether they are honest with me or whether I can tell in their playing) will go home. But the fee still stands.
Sounds harsh, but it has been amazing --the improvement and the desire to practice.

But parents play a HUGE role in this. And I guess the parents of my students had to be jolted a little as well, to help their kids see how important practicing is...

Sorry. I guess that doesn't really help your situation....tangent over.

I'd follow the advice of anonymous above.

P.S. Talk with her teacher as well --maybe you could work out something together that will work. If she's good, she'll be willing!!

8/24/2006 12:38:00 AM  
Anonymous JKS said...

My daughter has to write down how much she practices (and I sign it). I think she is embarrassed to go when she hasn't practiced at all. Her teacher also has her set a goal of #minutes she will practice the next week.
So, like I said, while I only "make" her practice a couple times a week, she usually practices more on her own. (Sometimes her goal is pretty high, but I refuse to "make" her practice that much. I leave it up to her to decide her own goal. I'm happy if she practices 30 minutes a week).
So, you could try getting the teacher to help her set a goal, and then try to meet it and write down how much she actually practices.
It gives some accountability that works, I think.

8/24/2006 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Oh, the teacher totally knows. I know that. She has a sheet that she sends home that my daughter has to check off each day that she's practiced, and my daughter is o rule oriented, she would never cheat on that sheet.

So she (the teacher) says things like "great lesson! You are doing so well! Now imagine how much better you would be if you practiced more!" But since my girl is currently mastering everything she's being given on the little amount of practice, it's not so motivating. I have asked the teacher to give her more, but she won't do it yet, saying she doesn't want to overwhelm her. We'll see when things get harder.

Those are great tips, anon piano teacher. Thanks.

8/24/2006 02:37:00 PM  

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