Beginning piano lessons ... Help! My child is not wanting to go to lessons anymore!
I have a little girl who is very high functioning on the spectrum. (Autism spectrum.) She just turned 6 and has been in piano for almost a year.
At first, she was really excited. She loved her lessons and she loved to practice. And she literally sped through her book! We started her on Bastien Primer A.
As she progressed, she did not like to practice (which I assume is normal for most children) but she still liked to go to her lesson.
Now she does not like to practice OR go to her lesson. She tells me she does not like to play the piano. But she's REALLY GOOD at it.
We have lately stumbled into some problems.
I've realized that she isn't doing much note reading. She memorizes.
I'm okay with that but I want her to also read notes. So, I'm trying to gauge what we should do. She is such a perfectionist that she knows if it's wrong. And then she has anxiety and meltdowns.
I don't want to ruin music for her. But at the same time, I know that most people who end up playing the piano had to go through years of practicing even when they didn't want to.
So how do I know when to just push through and make her practice, or when to either quit or find a different teacher so I don't ruin music for her?
She is so musical and it would be a shame to make it such a negative thing.
If that happens, it will be permanent and I may never be able to give her that joy of music again. If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them. Thanks so much!
I want you to know that what is happening is pretty common with young - and older - children, musically-inclined or not. I agree that the way you choose to deal with it is important.
If it is at all possible, I would try to get her to FINISH OUT the year.
This is a good lesson for children, understanding that it is good to commit to things for a specified period of time, and then take a break from it, if desired or necessary.
She is only 6.
That is so young. But completely aside from the musical aspects of this situation, it is important for her to understand that teachers & people in general who have become part of one's life, ought not to be tossed aside quickly without some consideration.
I would NOT be concerned with note-reading, aside from note-reading games (you can find lots of good ideas around the internet - check out www.SusanParadis.com - she has lots of FREE games you can print out, and cute ideas & free music for little ones).
Note-reading WILL come. One of my own daughters, a rather brilliant girl (didn't get it from me!) did not read until the age of 8. Eight! We were worried & frustrated. But inside a few months she was reading college-level English.
Instead, I would seek out music that she loves, and see if her teacher would be willing to adapt it for her skill level.
Every new piece of music will have some opportunity for note-reading practice, even if she quickly memorizes it.
Has she seen the newest Cinderella movie?
There's a sweet song called "Lavender's Blue" that Cinderella sings, which is definitely an early beginner song.
I have made a setting of the music for my youngest students, as the song is public domain.
The one shown here even has letters inside the note heads.
Have you tried the song "Indian Dance"?
Again, this song can be printed with lettered notes.
When coupled with a left hand chord, it gives children a feeling of power!
I don't know your daughter, of course, but if you really believe that music must be an important part of her future, of her life, then I would be matter-of-fact about it.
Not emotional, and not susceptible to tears & melt-downs on her part. If you are even-keeled with your little perfectionist, drama will be minimized. You need to be the adult.
But don't hover - help her a little bit, but not too much. This needs to belong to her.
Let her stumble around a bit with her new music, as long as you have a schedule that keeps bringing her back to it over the course of the week.
It's not surprising that she is not wanting to go to lessons now. This might just be temporary, and another teacher might NOT be the answer.
Stop and think about it - how many classes have you signed up for as an adult, and when it came down to it, you just wanted to stay home and "veg" out, after all?
It takes a lot of drive and self-discipline to dedicate yourself to any form of self-improvement, let alone having to BE someplace once a week.
Children aren't born with that self-discipline. Adults grow weary - certainly kids do too!
Perhaps a weekly treat AFTER lessons, that comes to be associated only with lessons, would help motivate her.
You can make it understood that, just as learning to read, and just as some form of schooling, are expected of her, so will becoming adept at playing piano.
Maybe not today, maybe not all at once, but over time. The carrot & stick approach really works well ("No snack, no whatever - until I have heard all your songs, then you can go play," etc.).
And perhaps there can be some wheeling & dealing between the two of you from time to time.
By the way, are you attending lessons with her? At her age, I think it is absolutely essential.
I'm not thinking only about the learning dynamics, but about your daughter's comfort level with her teacher.
No way would I leave my child alone with another adult or even an older child, until that person had - somehow - earned my deep trust.
Does that sound like a lot of work on YOUR part?
Yes, it is - and I think that is the primary reason most students don't progress to their true potential - it's because their parents lack consistency! ;)
Louie Louie - a fun way to cement the relationships of the I, IV, V chords in students' minds & fingers
Note-Reading Worksheets - charts with the notes on single staffs & the grand staff, with & without lettered notes.
Rote Learning - leaving the written page behind (or treating it like a map!)
Studio Favorite - currently! "Double Double, Toil & Trouble" is a vibrant solo or duet with a glissando, & lyrics borrowed from Shakespeare's "Macbeth"
All the first-year material I give my beginner students.
Piano keyboard sheets, scales, chords, note-reading exercises, and over 256 pages of music!
This beautiful song book for piano & voice "Esther, For Such a Time as This", available as a digital download, tells the riveting story of the time when Jews in ancient Persia faced a foe named Haman, and how a brave young queen risked her life to save her people.
A good choice for a singing story-teller, an operatic group, a short theater production, or a class of children!
This book is also available from Amazon as a paperback.
This book is available as a digital download from this site. Visit this page to see some free examples from the book.
It is also available from Amazon as a paperback!
This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.
And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!" They will be spending more time at the piano.
A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls.
The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.
With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.
Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!
Joy: I bought your Halloween Songs, wrote teacher accompaniment for some, and performed with 17 of my students in costume at an assisted living facility. It was a "win-win" situation.
The kids and residents loved it and the parents were very pleased with the service aspect of their children's performance as well.
Thank you for sharing these lovely pieces that introduce the minor key in a very simple and interesting way to early elementary students.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you....I have a lot of books on graded pieces but not a lot of beginner pieces.
I use material I have written myself together with books I encourage my parents to buy... but sometimes parents just can't afford a book- and as a teacher you sometimes do find your self searching for material....Thank you thank you thank you once again!
Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...
Hi, I'm Dana! (Say that like "Anna".) I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.
Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.
You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.