Today I am playing around with Wordle! It’s so neat! I was just saying to my husband the other day that I’d really like to learn how to make cool graphic facebook covers, advertisements, webpage graphics, etc when I heard about Wordle from Teach Piano Today. This worlde was created just using my webpage/blog url…..you can tell the focus of my webpage right now is the Christmas recital, can’t you! 😉
Seven years ago, I suffered from migraines. Horrible, debilitating migraines. They would strike at any time–in the grocery store, teaching lessons–and leave me feeling nauseated, drained and utterly useless as a parent and teacher. My doctor tried different prescriptions and some would work for a while and then stop. When the migraines increased to 3 or 4 or more a month, she sent me to a neurologist. He ran many tests and asked lots questions. Finally he asked me how much I exercised. Now I’ve always been proud to say that I come from a very active family. My parents strapped a pair of figure skates on me when I was 5 and I never looked back. My parents also loved hiking and biking and camping. Laying around at our house wasn’t an option. All through university, I skated and ran and biked and hiked and skied. So, I proudly told him that and that I also currently walked my son to preschool almost every day–a twenty minute walk there and another twenty back. He looked unimpressed and said, “Well, that would be great….if you were a senior citizen.” What?! He went on to tell me that I needed real exercise at least 3-5 times a week. Exercise like running, kickboxing or bootcamp. He told me he wanted me to try it for 3 months and if it didn’t help, then we would try Botox. I left feeling annoyed, but what other choice did I have but to try (although, I was secretly hoping for the botox). I tried running and,after a just a couple weeks, I could see improvement but I was bored and it was lonely and so easy to just skip it. My friend and I decided to try bootcamp classes at a local rec complex. It was an agonizing hour of torture and if I hadn’t committed to doing it with her there is no way I would have gone on my own. After a while another friend joined us and we’d have a quick coffee and visit after class. Now there are 5 or 6 of us and sometimes we do bootcamp, sometimes it’s spin and sometimes it’s just on our own doing a crossfit or workout of the week. We go pretty regularly and faithfully because we get to see each other. It’s social and there are things we can do together (partner exercises, spotting each other on weights) that we couldn’t do alone. Oh, and those migraines? Can’t remember the last time I had one!
So, how does this relate to piano lessons? The piano can be a solitary instrument. As you advance you take private lessons, you practice on your own….by yourself. I do enjoy running on my own–occasionally–but it can start feeling lonely and piano is the same way. This is why I do group lessons several times a year in my studio. It provides the students a chance to get to know each other outside of recitals, to build camaraderie, to know that they aren’t alone…..that there are others struggling with the same challenges and working towards the same goals. It also allows me to do activities or teach skills that I either don’t have time for in a private lesson or just can’t in a one on one situation….like improvising or “jamming” or ensemble playing or games. Since starting group teaching six years ago, I have noticed that my junior high students are no longer quitting in junior high! In fact, I just can’t seem to get rid of them! LOL! One of my students is heading off to university this year and still wants to take lessons with me! Why? Because they are involved and engaged, they feel like they are part of a family. They have friends and know that they are not alone, they feel safe and supported….and they are learning skills that will allow them to enjoy playing the piano for life either on their own or in a social situation. Being surrounded with friends with like-minded goals can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your success!
And just take a looks at sports programs. My son is in lacrosse. He loves it and wouldn’t want to miss a practice. Why? Because his team feels like a family to him.
Group fitness wasn’t what inspired me to start group teaching–a piano teacher named Melody Bober did–but being involved in a group activity myself has truly helped me experience the value of it. This week, I was able to listen to a podcast interview from another piano teacher who teaches studio group lessons for her private students exactly the same way that I do and with the same frequency….and in hearing that, I felt that instant camaraderie and support!
1. Provide a good in-tune home instrument – a good instrument is paramount to the success of your piano kid’s lessons. Without a way to properly practice at home, your child will feel inadequate come lesson time and will rapidly lose motivation and interest.
2. Attend lessons regularly with all needed materials and a well-rested child – Regular attendance ensures that your child progresses. Progression leads to feelings of self-confidence and achievement. Piano students need their books at every lesson as well as any other materials suggested by their teacher. Keep books organized at home and teach your child learn to be responsible for their materials.
Children learn best when they are well-rested (not only in terms of sleep, but also in terms of “extracurricular over-load”) and when they are healthy. Sick piano kids don’t retain very much… and result in sick piano teachers!
3. Establish a consistent and daily practice routine – Piano lessons are one of the few extracurricular activities that require daily attention. Choose a specific time of day that works for your family (before school, after dinner, after the bath etc.) and make piano practice a regular and consistent event every single day. Avoid times that are hectic or rushed, remove distractions (like the TV or smaller siblings) and try to be in the vicinity to offer encouragement and/or help with piano practice.
4. Be Positive… provide constant encouragement – Comment often on your child’s progress. Remember the names of the pieces they are working on and make requests as you go about your day to encourage regular visits to the piano. Show your pride by sharing videos, photos or musical phone calls with friends and family. Help your child to identify themselves as a “pianist”.
5. Stay involved! Show that you value music by providing live-music opportunities, encouraging your child’s participation in recitals and performances and being a part of their daily practice in some way (even if it’s only as a happy listener). Seek out opportunities to involve music in your daily routines: have a dance party at home to help feel the beat, load your ipod or a CD with a variety of styles of music to listen to in the car like folk and jazz or bluegrass–something to supplement the top 10 songs that the radio plays over and over, find a funny and upbeat tune to wake them up each Friday morning (maybe a little WHAM! Way me up before you go go!), do karaoke in the kitchen! Go to Symphony for Kids and any other live performances you can find, many high schools put on a musical each spring and they are either very inexpensive or even free! Put on a crazy fast song while they clean their room and make the challenge to see how many toys are put away before it ends…..the possibilities are endless!
By being an active member of the “Piano Teaching Triangle of Success” you ensure that your child gets full advantage of the many, many benefits of piano lessons