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Author Topic: Once a week lessons clearly not working  (Read 1359 times)
doreen
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« on: January 06, 2012, 07:22:06 PM »

Hello,
    Does anyone else think that the once a week lesson just isn't working? I have many bright students, but so many are just not doing well.  I am teachimg them the same basic things over and over again.
I feel like information just isn't getting to the long-term memory.
I have been teaching for 25 years. The last few years have been really difficult. I know that I need to change the way I am teaching to reach today's students.
Has anyone tried teaching more than one lesson per week? I would like to be able to see my students three or four times per week, but I am not sure how to make this cost effective. I am also exploring new ways to use technology.
Any ideas? I would welcome your input.

thanks
D
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pavanne2
keypeg
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 09:49:21 PM »

To make your lessons gel, what happens in between is important.  Do the students know how to approach practicing?  Could that part be tweaked?
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pianoplayjl
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2012, 01:11:14 AM »

I sometimes think once a week lessons are not working. I've been working on the same piece hands separate for a few weeks and feel like I've made no progress. Clearly teachers must give students time to practice during the week and absorb what they've been taught. Somehow  I strongly discourage a student taking 3-4 lessons a week because they're bound to not absorb anything you said and they wouldn't have mastered the homework you gave them. IMO you can try 3 lessons in 2weeks which occasionally I sometimes do when I miss a lesson. Sometimes I get the feeling that I've been learning the same thing over and over again even when practicing a lot. Maybe patience is what you need more.

JL
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mcdiddy1
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2012, 12:15:54 PM »

Hello,
    Does anyone else think that the once a week lesson just isn't working? I have many bright students, but so many are just not doing well.  I am teachimg them the same basic things over and over again.
I feel like information just isn't getting to the long-term memory.
I have been teaching for 25 years. The last few years have been really difficult. I know that I need to change the way I am teaching to reach today's students.
Has anyone tried teaching more than one lesson per week? I would like to be able to see my students three or four times per week, but I am not sure how to make this cost effective. I am also exploring new ways to use technology.
Any ideas? I would welcome your input.

thanks
D

I think one a week lessons work just fine under normal circumstances , especially beginners. Of course it would be more benefitial to have multiple lessons a week and some concervatories and teachers offer that and it works for them. That is not to say once a week lessons do not work because a beginner can absorb and enormous amount of information in thirty mins. What criteria are you using to say your students are not meeting your standard?

I sometimes think once a week lessons are not working. I've been working on the same piece hands separate for a few weeks and feel like I've made no progress. Clearly teachers must give students time to practice during the week and absorb what they've been taught. Somehow  I strongly discourage a student taking 3-4 lessons a week because they're bound to not absorb anything you said and they wouldn't have mastered the homework you gave them. IMO you can try 3 lessons in 2weeks which occasionally I sometimes do when I miss a lesson. Sometimes I get the feeling that I've been learning the same thing over and over again even when practicing a lot. Maybe patience is what you need more.

JL

I think it depends on the teacher. In college at one point because of my scheduadle I would have two lessons a week and we never worked on the same piece or same place in the music twice in a row. Learning and practice is a process so a goal does not have to be mastered in one lesson.music students in schools have lessons every day so why would you not expect a student to be able to handle more than three lessons a day? What is more important is how the information is presented and how effective and varied the teaching is. If the teaching is valid and true, then it is the students job to retain the information in a way that helps them either by writing down notes in their music,communicating questions with the teacher, and exploring and solving problems for themselves.
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pianoplayjl
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2012, 12:42:19 PM »

I think it depends on the teacher. In college at one point because of my scheduadle I would have two lessons a week and we never worked on the same piece or same place in the music twice in a row. Learning and practice is a process so a goal does not have to be mastered in one lesson.music students in schools have lessons every day so why would you not expect a student to be able to handle more than three lessons a day? What is more important is how the information is presented and how effective and varied the teaching is. If the teaching is valid and true, then it is the students job to retain the information in a way that helps them either by writing down notes in their music,communicating questions with the teacher, and exploring and solving problems for themselves.

I once knew an acquaintance, an amateur who had 2-3 lessons a week and was also in 8th grade at such a very young age. I think because advanced students have so much material to learn and sometimes learn a bit slower than lower grade students, they do deserve multiple lessons a week to keep up. It's just that I never had this thought of multiple lessons a week until I dug this muse out. Agreed that it depends on the teacher but in this case might also depend on the student since she is only 8-9 years old and with such advanced musical intellect though she is only an amateur. So maybe I wasn't thinking outside the square and thought 'lessons' referred to private 1 on 1 lessons.

JL
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doreen
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2012, 08:32:58 PM »

Hi
Thanks for your input, My criteria for my student's progress is that they are improving steadily in their playing and grasping musical concepts.
I am especially struggling with rhythmic concepts. I teach and go over rhythm each and every week. For example the dotted quarter note. They can play it when they hear it. But it is really difficult to get them to the point where they can tell me what it is and interpret it for themselves.
Some of my students are in piano for a year and they still can't tell me how many beats the dotted quarter gets and how to count it.
They practice but not consistantly, and most of all not mindfully.
Many of them are in highly demanding magnet programs for academics and recieve little or no music at school.
I need to find ways to help them become better musicians, so that they will continue to enjoy piano their whole lives.
I honestly think a large part of the problem is long term vs. short term memory. I have learned to speak fairly fluent Spanish. I notice that if I learn a new word at 3:00 on Monday I must recall it to my mind and 4:00 and later that day, and the next day in order to make it stick. Once I have it I have it. I could say it 100 times at 3:00 but if I don't recall it, it is gone the next day.
I can tell my kids that a quarter note gets one beat every monday, but if they don't recall that fact to their memories during the week it is gone when I see them next.

Thanks
Doreen




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pavanne2
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2012, 10:02:02 PM »

This goes back to the question of practicing.  Besides practicing mindfully as a general idea, there are ways of setting it up to know how to approach it over the week, and on each day (broken up further).  There can be more than just the idea of repetition, but where to put your attention.  A lesson is one hour a week or less.  If a student practices an hour a day, that is 7 hours so 7:1.  If he practices 2 hours a week that is 14 hours = 14:1.  If that practicing is ineffective in some way, it doesn't have the same clout.  If it can be made more effective, then less time can have more clout.

Quote
I can tell my kids that a quarter note gets one beat every monday, but if they don't recall that fact to their memories during the week it is gone when I see them next.
So how are they approaching this during the week?  Is it be saying it to themselves once a day?  Is it by saying it just before they practice a piece?  Is it by experiencing it (something they do) so that it becomes real to them by bringing in other senses?  (As an example).
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mcdiddy1
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2012, 03:37:06 AM »

Hi
Thanks for your input, My criteria for my student's progress is that they are improving steadily in their playing and grasping musical concepts.
I am especially struggling with rhythmic concepts. I teach and go over rhythm each and every week. For example the dotted quarter note. They can play it when they hear it. But it is really difficult to get them to the point where they can tell me what it is and interpret it for themselves.
Some of my students are in piano for a year and they still can't tell me how many beats the dotted quarter gets and how to count it.
They practice but not consistantly, and most of all not mindfully.
Many of them are in highly demanding magnet programs for academics and recieve little or no music at school.
I need to find ways to help them become better musicians, so that they will continue to enjoy piano their whole lives.
I honestly think a large part of the problem is long term vs. short term memory. I have learned to speak fairly fluent Spanish. I notice that if I learn a new word at 3:00 on Monday I must recall it to my mind and 4:00 and later that day, and the next day in order to make it stick. Once I have it I have it. I could say it 100 times at 3:00 but if I don't recall it, it is gone the next day.
I can tell my kids that a quarter note gets one beat every monday, but if they don't recall that fact to their memories during the week it is gone when I see them next.

Thanks
Doreen

If I were in your shoes I would not  worry too much if the kids remembered every musical fact. Never met a kid who came out of group classes who knew everything about music theory and they turn out fine. Consider that the dotted half note you are trying to teach them, assume you are talking about in 4/4 time , getting one and a half beat is only true in that one condition and once they get to triple meters 6/8 etc then number of beats the note value gets changes anyway.

If you are feel them must absolutely learn this musical fact for some musical purpose why not come up with a song they kids can sing to help them remember. Or you could teach them a song like America by rote and show them what they played. 
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jpahmad
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2012, 04:05:03 AM »

Doreen,

Why don't you try setting aside one hour a week (if you can afford it) to have multiple students come in and just practice under your supervision.  You can do it as part of the lesson package that your students already pay for, or charge extra, whatever.  Here's the thing, you would have to use digital keyboards so that mutliple people could practice at the same time.  At my studio, I have three different rooms with keyboards in them so I can easly separate the students.  In the main room I have my grand piano where I teach my normal private lessons.  If you have digital keyboards then you can supervise 2-6 kids at once and maybe even rotate who get's to come to the sesson every week.  I really can't stand keyboards but they sure do come in handy. 


jp
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2012, 07:39:24 AM »

I feel beginners would benefit greatly from daily lessons and as they become more confident they can have less.  The problem with this is that most people cannot afford so many one on one lessons. I like what jpahmad suggested and perhaps if you teach multiple students at a time then you could have a more competitive price. I watched a lesson at Curtin Univeristy when they had a music department where there were 30+ digital pianos all connected up to one master system and the teacher could speak to each student through a microphone and listen to each one and if needed could walk up to the particular student, I thought that was a cool idea but that is a lot of hardware. It is also different from one on one type lessons where the teacher gives their full attention to the individual student, the teacher needs to be very concise and effective when they teach, any unnecessary elaborations or slow explanations will waste the lesson for that individual student in a group lesson.

I think Keypeg also has a good point to scrutinize their practice method. If you spoon feed your students all the way through daily lessons and they never learn to teach themselves, they never really will go far. Sometimes it is a good idea just to sit back and observe your student teach themselves learning new material for a lesson, that way you can assess their method and hone in onto improvements that need to take priority.

Students should be encouraged to send you an email every so often, I have some who send me emails daily reporting their work. For some students this is helpful because it makes them think about their piano playing and have some place to write a musical journal, for some they might also not feel so alone and lost when working at home if they can keep contact with the teacher. I even encourage my private students to ring me or SMS anytime if they have any questions or are stumped as to how to complete their work. It might be a good idea to have a social page (eg: Facebook) where all your students can correspond with each other and with you and you can also write for all your students and post daily, weekly music discussions etc.

Encourage your students to also listen/watch/read about piano music and do things other than just play the piano. Studying piano is not only about sitting in front of the instrument and tinkering away, there is much more to explore and excite yourself with. I find the students of mine who progress the fastest and furthest are those who have an interest in music that extends beyond just being able to play the instrument. So sometimes a student does not necessary need daily lessons but requires some ideas as to how to not only practice the piano for the week on their own but also explore the other music literature and activities which take you away from merely sitting at the keys.


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jpahmad
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 02:33:27 AM »

Something that a lot of teachers don't realize is that it is difficult for a student to practice in front of the discerning eyes of the teacher.  You can almost compare this circumstance to actually performing.  You see, for the kids, they are actually performing for you, even when you ask them to go ahead and practice while you sit there.  They want to please you, they want to do it right, and they want to do it exactly the way you told them to.  Therefore, it is not true practice; it is the student trying to do exactly what you told them without messing up, which is an entirely different thing and inefficient in terms of practice. 

To solve this problem, I simply show them once what I want them to do, maybe have them try it once under my supervision (fingerings, etc..) then I tell them to go in the other room and master it.  It is of the utmost importance that I am not hovering around and bothering them while they work things out in their own way.  Nine times out of ten, they come back and have it nailed.  Of course, I only give them a short reasonable little chunk of the music to master, and this can vary according the the students level.

When they come back,  you show them another chunk of the song, HT, HS, whatever, and send them back at it.  This is how I run my "supervised" practice sessions.  You can even reward points for accurate playing when they return and have them compete to see who gets the most points!  Smiley
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jpahmad
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 03:20:07 AM »

lostinidlewonder,

I completely agree with your "anti-spoonfeeding" strategie.  It is too often that beginning students just sit there and wait for you to give them their starting hand position, or to tell them this or that note.  It is especially irritating when you know they can figure it out for themselves, but they're just to lazy to do it.  So your idea of just sitting there and observing them operate is great.  I find that if they know your not going to give them the anwers, then they quickly start figuring things out.  Once again, it's always good if you can make a game out of it.  But I suppose you need more than one student at a time for games.  Thus, that is the benifit of having a group session every now and then.
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suniil
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2012, 08:10:38 PM »

from a non-musical parent's prespective, yes we do have problem in expected progress for my daughter. Recently we switched to 2 lessons per week (monday & thursday) and it made a dramatic difference.
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misspam
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« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2012, 08:22:31 PM »

Hi,

This sounds like a practicing issue.  Do you ask your students to record how much time they are practicing?  I do, mostly because it helps them to reflect if they are practicing daily or not.  I tell my students that 5 minutes every day is better than 2 hours on one day.  For some students, especially the ones taking advanced classes in school, 30 minutes of practice is getting in the way of their homework time.  If they take 5 - 10 minutes between subjects or as a break during homework, it is easier for them to manage.  Doing this several times in one day will quickly add up to 30 minutes or even an hour every day. 

I also ask my students to set a goal for each practice time.  Practice these two measures until you can play it 3 times in a row perfectly.  Then we will do that during the lesson.  After they play a passage I'll ask, "How was your rhythm?" or "Did you play all the right notes?"  This helps them learn to critique their own practice time at home and to recognize that practice is not just playing, but playing for a specific end in sight.  By practicing during the lesson, I'm teaching them what to do at home.

Sometimes during a lesson, after the student has played their piece, I'll ask them if they were me, what would they say?  A lot of times the students already know how their piece needs to improve.  Then I'll ask them how they plan to fix that issue.  Sometimes they give me great ideas, sometimes they need help in knowing how to approach the issue. 

With rhythm, I have found 2 techniques that work pretty well.  One is that I will cut pieces of paper to match the rhythm note.  For example, a quarter note will be 1 inch long and a half note will be 2 inches long.  Then I'll cut a dotted quarter note, 1 1/2 inches and ask how long do you hold this?  The lengths of paper seem to give the students a visual picture that they can understand.  Another technique is that I'll ask the students to write where beat one starts, where beat 2 starts, etc. then we talk about the notes in between and what to say on those notes. 
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