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What Can I(we) Do?


Dog Tales

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My 11 year old daughter is rapidly becoming a much better player than myself, yet she hates every minute of it, practice wise. What are some good suggestions that might make practice time more enjoyable for her?

When I was just learning all I had to play on was an old upright piano, so I had good reason to be bored. She, however, can play any sound she wants with my rig, something I would have died for.

Of note(no pun): She does like to show off for friends & classmates.

"I'm not a monkey anymore..."
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Do you practice along with any backing tracks? If you don't, consider creating MIDI loops with bass and drums (and other stuff) - particularly of pop hits (or getting them off the 'net). There are also programs like Band in a Box (and others) that create backing tracks automatically - you just enter chords and style. Or maybe the Jamie Abersold CD's - you get to play along with actual great musicians. Playing in context sometimes gives me an incentive to practice when I get tired of drills, scales etc.

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Originally posted by Dog Tales:

My 11 year old daughter is rapidly becoming a much better player than myself, yet she hates every minute of it, practice wise. What are some good suggestions that might make practice time more enjoyable for her?

Does she want to?

 

I had childhood friends who were much better piano players that I will ever be, probably. They don't play anymore, nor do they have fond memories.

 

I do agree that kids sometimes need a little push, and only you as a parent can decide that. Just thought I'd ask.

 

But Dave's suggestions is the best, I think. I tried studying classical piano to improve my technique. That went nowhere, I plain don't like to play that stuff. Give me a nice pop-rock piano tune and I'll be transcribing and coming up with variations of that stuff for hours.

 

I can deal with boring exercises, as long as I divide my time with something I enjoy... Maybe that's the key to her practice time.

 

A friend of mine's daughter was taking singing lessons. She was hating it - she was hating the repertoire. I asked her if she knew Evanescence's "My Immortal" (I knew I could wing it on the piano, and the song's been popular here among teenagers). Her eyes turned as big as dinner plates. She did a beautiful job, and she had a blast. She certainly enjoys singing, and is good at it.

 

She can certainly do better than that - I showed her some other stuff that she seemed to enjoy too, that were more challenging. I told her dad to suggest to the teacher to try to mix the repertoire a bit.

Korg Kronos X73 / ARP Odyssey / Motif ES Rack / Roland D-05 / JP-08 / SE-05 / Jupiter Xm / Novation Mininova / NL2X / Waldorf Pulse II

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Kids don't see the end-purpose to practice, so you have to give them one: see if you can line up a gig for her. Anything will do - like a talent show, a recital, a church performance, school function, a nursing home performance, a rec center dance etc. What a music student needs is to feel the adrenaline rush of performing for an event they have prepared for. They'll never realize that it was the preparation that was the point, and you never need bother them with that fact. Just keep lining up gigs. :D
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Two things have worked for my daughter: watching her friends playing (the competitive element) and playing songs that she really likes and can sing along to. Whenever she hears a new song that she likes, we learn it on her keyboard and she loves to show off that she can play it.

 

Everybody starts out loving music and with an innate talent and motivation. You have to learn to dislike it. When that happens, its usually the teachers fault (sometimes the parents' too). Dont hesitate to talk to the teacher, or change teachers if necessary. If she has a great teacher, then its guaranteed shell enjoy the learning process. Just because she's a beginner doesn't mean she can't think of her keyboard as her favorite toy. Like it is with probably most of us here :)

 

A friend of mine has a 9-year old son who has a natural talent on violin. Hes been playing for two years and is already playing in a youth symphony and in school groups, and trading licks with friends (hes in a music magnet school). A couple months ago he told his dad that he didnt want to do it anymore. Turned out his teacher was strict to the point of being insulting, and it was turning him off to music entirely. Lessons were starting to feel like punishment. So the dad had a talk with both teacher and son.

 

He told the teacher that he was going to change teachers unless she changed her approach. He told his son (and I think this is great): People may not realize or understand this yet, but there is no doubt that learning to play music is just as important as learning to read and write. Ill let you change teachers or change instruments any time you want, but you are going to take music lessons until youre 18. That's just the way it's going to be. After that you can decide for yourself. But until then, youre going to be putting out as much effort learning to be a musician as you are in other schoolwork like reading and writing. He also explained to him that a certain amount of discipline is OK because it saves a lot of time in the long run, and that it shouldnt be interpreted as an insult from the teacher. Since then his son hasnt brought up the issue and everything is going just great . . . .

 

For him and my daugher I think the key is the social interaction, and the repertoire (usually pop tunes that they can't get enough of). Being a musician is then a part of one's "cool" persona :D

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Originally posted by Dave Pierce:

Real simple: Play music that you like. Don't play music that you don't like.

 

--Dave

That's the road we're taking now. Unfortunately, it has taken us a while to find stuff that she'd want to play mainly because she's not the music buff that I was as a kid. She's more into the things that young girls do these days: cloths, computer chatting, talking on the phone, soccer, etc. The thing I'm trying to do is keep her going, because she is really good, yet not push too hard & create that "I'm never going to play again" attidude.
"I'm not a monkey anymore..."
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I started my 6 yr old last September and she's coming along great. Her teacher says she's gifted. She has this amazing ability to memorize the little songs she plays very quickly. The down side is that she tends to not look at the sheet music much after she memorizes the tunes. I'm trying to steer her to look up from the keyboard more often.

Every so often I show her a song that she likes that's playing on the radio, and it tends to keep her interest in learning more. You have to have a nice balance between classics & contemporary.

 

A few weeks ago, someone's cell phone went off at a restaurant, my daughter blurted out "Hey, that's Mozart!" :D

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

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Thanks all, these are some nifty suggestions & some of them have been or are being tried now.

This can also be a thread on how to keep our kids interested in music... and I don't mean just the corporate, lip-synced crap or hip-hop/rap that seems to be on everyones plate these days.

"I'm not a monkey anymore..."
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