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Teaching my daughter piano? (Read 1848 times)

Offline mychel0620

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Teaching my daughter piano?
« on: November 23, 2013, 03:08:15 PM »
Hello I am new to the forum and have a question about teaching my daughter piano. Here is a little background on my musical knowledge and experience: I started playing piano about 20 years ago and took private lessons for 5 years. I only quit piano to focus more on clarinet. At the time I was thinking I wanted to play clarinet professionally, either teaching or playing in a symphony. I continued to play piano at home, mostly contemporary music, and some classical that I had learned in my lessons. My experience with auditioning and playing in symphonies and local/district/all state bands with clarinet gave me a good grasp on sight reading so Iíve never been afraid to try new pieces on piano even if they were a little above my skill level. I went several years, after a move, without a piano and about 3 years ago inherited a family piano. Iíve been playing daily and working more with classical music to improve my knowledge. 

My 8 year old daughter is asking me to teach her piano. I know I have the ability to teach her up to a certain point. Iím more concerned that at some point, she will reach a level that I cannot help her past. In my opinion we would be entering new territory and learning new pieces together. Iím not sure I am comfortable with that. My thought was to teach her the basics and then if she wants to continue, find her a private teacher.

Opinions?

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 04:59:37 PM »
You learn a lot about yourself and your child doing this sort of thing. Years ago, my son at five used to sit next to me and absorb a lot from me with a little help. As he got older I sent him to a teacher. Now, many years later ( decades) I teach both his youngest son, who is 6 and his oldest daughter who is 13. It depends on the relationship and if a parent can put on the shelf being a parent or in my case a grand parent. Because you need to be the teacher not the parent in this case. At least for that period of time. That may sound obvious but I have to tell you it probably isn't for everyone !
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 05:52:18 PM »
I'd have the same concerns about teaching my children if I didn't' know what I was doing because it's highly probably that I'd do more harm than good.  For example, if I taught her how to play the way I was first taught, I know that she would be technically limited and it would prevent her from playing technically challenging pieces.  And the fact that I would be available to teach and reinforce this bad technique makes it even more difficult for her to figure out a better one.

But other than technique, which is unique to the piano, music is the same regardless of instrument. So as long as you don't teach her how to play (rigid technical regimen) then you should be fine.

Offline Bob

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 08:51:22 PM »
I'd get an outside teacher just so it's no a family member situation between student and teacher.  You could still help her along anyway though, it just wouldn't be a parent teaching to a student/child.  I'm not sure how to phrase it -- It's more like a respect/distance issue.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #4 on: November 24, 2013, 12:33:23 AM »
I'd get an outside teacher just so it's no a family member situation between student and teacher.  You could still help her along anyway though, it just wouldn't be a parent teaching to a student/child.  I'm not sure how to phrase it -- It's more like a respect/distance issue.

But that's like saying you don't want to teach your child how to ride a bike because you want to keep your distance... from your own child.  ???

Offline mychel0620

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #5 on: November 24, 2013, 04:14:28 AM »
You learn a lot about yourself and your child doing this sort of thing. Years ago, my son at five used to sit next to me and absorb a lot from me with a little help. As he got older I sent him to a teacher. Now, many years later ( decades) I teach both his youngest son, who is 6 and his oldest daughter who is 13. It depends on the relationship and if a parent can put on the shelf being a parent or in my case a grand parent. Because you need to be the teacher not the parent in this case. At least for that period of time. That may sound obvious but I have to tell you it probably isn't for everyone !

We discussed this exact topic a week ago. I asked her a year ago if she had any interest in learning and she said no. The past few months sheís been sitting with me at the piano while Iím playing, asking about the music, commenting on the ones she likes best. When she asked if I would teach her, we talked about my role as a teacher versus her mom. And that for the duration of the lesson she would have to listen to my instructions and be respectful just like she does her teachers at school and her karate teachers. The biggest concern I can see coming up initially is going to be having uninterrupted time since the classroom is the home. My piano is in the livingroom.

Worse case, if it's a disaster, then I have a great friend that is a piano teacher. She has offered to teach her. :)

Offline Bob

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #6 on: November 24, 2013, 05:15:04 AM »
But that's like saying you don't want to teach your child how to ride a bike because you want to keep your distance... from your own child.  ???

Riding a bike doesn't take that long to learn.  I'd go for a little more formal lesson structure.  Even the scheduling -- If it's an outside teacher, the lesson is at x-time, you go to the lesson.  If it's at home... Maybe the lesson can be moved around, maybe it happens later, maybe it's not such a deadline to prepare for...

I suppose the other part with this thread -- Is the original poster a teacher?  Plays?  fine.  Good performer?  Fine.  Has he/she ever taught a beginner piano lessons?  One lesson?  A series of lessons?  I wouldn't want myself as a teacher really if I was serious about taking lessons on an instrument other than my primary instrument.  (That's how it's set up in schools though, but that's more of a factory mill/give-them-a-taste-of-music setting.  Not ideal.)
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #7 on: November 24, 2013, 09:56:10 AM »
We discussed this exact topic a week ago. I asked her a year ago if she had any interest in learning and she said no. The past few months sheís been sitting with me at the piano while Iím playing, asking about the music, commenting on the ones she likes best. When she asked if I would teach her, we talked about my role as a teacher versus her mom. And that for the duration of the lesson she would have to listen to my instructions and be respectful just like she does her teachers at school and her karate teachers. The biggest concern I can see coming up initially is going to be having uninterrupted time since the classroom is the home. My piano is in the livingroom.

Worse case, if it's a disaster, then I have a great friend that is a piano teacher. She has offered to teach her. :)

Well she is your child, let me turn it around. What do you think is best for your child ? And what are the basis of expectations out of this ? For instance, a taste of piano for her, a taste of teaching your child piano, life experience, or long term acceptance of music and piano ? Maybe all of the above ! And Bob brings up a good point, have you ever taught piano before ? If not , perhaps you could get a little coaching from your friend. Are you ready to step into a teaching role ?

Our piano has always been in the living room, I have two pianos in there these days, my old grand and a new digital.  Back in the 1970's when I knew I was getting serious about piano, the first thing to leave the living room was the tv. That served to move the masses out of the living room back then. These days kids are as happy to be on iPads or Nooks, they can do that anywhere. Now I do some teaching myself and household members after so many years know to be elsewhere in the house. Our house is good sized though, I have a studio as well that was our photo studio, now more a get together place with computer station which I am at right this moment actually. And the kitchen with a 12x12 addition added to it is set up for entertainment as well. Anyway, the point is that sometimes adjustments have to be made. We can't have it all, so compromise is in order regarding teaching and really, even for an effective practice area.


My teacher back then in the early 80's taught in her living room. Just a small beach cottage really. She closed in the front entry and made a waiting room out of that. Out back were two bed rooms and a small kitchen, the bathroom.. Just depends how dedicated one wants to be. Her living room was pretty much taken up with the Steinway she had in there. There was enough room for some benches around the sides that we sat on Wed Nights for her work shops. She loved little song birds and had a high shelf around the room, maybe 2 ft down from the ceiling with little carved or sculpted birds all around the living room .  But see, as a teacher she made all the changes in her house to teach. As a mom/teacher you may not want to go that far. Right away that kind of sets up a different perspective for your child, no ? Just things to consider, I'm not saying any of this is good or bad in your particular case. Think of how your own situation was when taking lessons. Does your child deserve the same, better etc.?
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline mychel0620

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #8 on: November 24, 2013, 03:36:54 PM »
All very good points and things I have been thinking of!
If we decide to do this, I talked to my husband about carving out scheduled time so we donít get tempted to have the lesson whenever itís convenient, and based on what everyone else is doing. I think that would send a message that the music lesson is not that important. Saturday mornings I have a block of time of about 2 hours that itís me and her that would work perfectly. No distractions from anyone else. Another option is I have a Yamaha digital piano (88 weighted keys) that I could set up in another room that would be completely private.

I've never formally given piano lessons in a professional setting. However, I have given beginner lessons to 3 friends over the last 15 years or so, 2 were teenagers and one a young adult at my home, very informally though and not structured or scheduled.  The expectation of those lessons from my friends were to learn just the basics to have an understanding of the piano. They felt it would help them with their music studies in other instruments (classical guitar, clarinet and trombone). As a musician, piano is my primary instrument now. I did not continue my clarinet studies after high school when I started college. It became an obsession from everyone around me to eat, sleep and breathe clarinet and make playing a career for sure when I wasnít 100% what I still wanted to do. I was completely turned off from the constant pressure and gave it up. The nice thing about piano is I never had that pressure, I could play just for the pure pleasure of it.

I've asked my daughter why she wants to learn and what her goals are. Of course, she's 7, so I don't know that she's thinking very long term. :) She said sees how much I love piano, music in general, and knows my love of piano came from my grandmother. Our family ties are strong, and I think thatís why it was so interesting to me as kid to learn and maybe why my daughter is interested. She sees the love of music in my family and wants to understand that herself.  We used to hold little informal recitals in our home when I was growing up and everyone would come and listen to my grandmother play and when I learned, I would play for my family. My daughter loves to listen and has her favorites on a little mp3 player she plays all the time. I think MY goal is to show her how much joy music can bring a person, to instill an appreciation and love for it.

When I asked her why she wants ME to teach her, she said she would feel more comfortable with me and didnít even want to consider the option of an outside teacher. Getting to the bottom of that feeling, she is a very sensitive kid and gets embarrassed and very upset with herself when she makes mistakes. And I know the feelingÖ I am very much like her in that way. As a music student when I couldnít get something right that I had practiced over and over for hours, I would sit and cry and feel discouraged. I donít think my teacher knew how to help me. Eventually as I got older, and  a little more mature I learned to  stop being so hard on myself and it was ok to make mistakes. In this way, I believe I could help my daughter. Like I said in the first post, my thoughts were to teach her through the basics. I do believe I have the ability, based on musical background, ability to play and the love of music. I believe my hangups are coming from my lack of music degree or formal training as a teacher.

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #9 on: November 24, 2013, 07:26:34 PM »
I bet you will do just fine. Enjoy the journey, times like this in a family are what memories that last for ever are made from ! I have little doubt that you will know what to do and when or if that time comes.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline mychel0620

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #10 on: November 26, 2013, 07:39:06 PM »
thanks!

Offline bobraxton

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #11 on: December 06, 2013, 06:26:14 AM »
I am the grandparent and our grandson turned six in July. My previous experience as a piano teacher was with our own son circa 1975-1980 (the early part). I believe he was about six years of age himself. The first time I showed him, the follow-up went nowhere. However, a little later (months?) he used the book beginning with "this is Middle C and a whole note" until soon he was playing somewhat sophisticated (sounding) pieces such that our next-door neighbor in Millburn, NJ, thought he must be taking lessons from a teacher (outside). That was the beginning. Subsequently he continued (started) with an excellent teacher with only fourteen students. When we moved to a nearby town in the next county (to the west), my spouse continued to drive him to piano lessons. He is a lifelong pianist, although at one point he confided "I do not want to become a 'concert pianist'" Now he is age 42 with undergraduate degree in mathematics, a high-school teacher (for three years) and a graduate Operations Research degree. Thanks you all for your encouragement. Comments are very helpful. Also want to ask about using iPad and the Steinway APP "Etude." By the way, we do have a Steinway baby grand "S" and it is (still) in grandparents' living room. The other set of grandparents lives a half-hour walk away and they have a (different brand) more blond color baby grand (from the great-grand mother, now deceased).

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Teaching my daughter piano?
«Reply #12 on: December 06, 2013, 09:58:39 AM »
Thanks you all for your encouragement. Comments are very helpful. Also want to ask about using iPad and the Steinway APP "Etude." By the way, we do have a Steinway baby grand "S" and it is (still) in grandparents' living room. The other set of grandparents lives a half-hour walk away and they have a (different brand) more blond color baby grand (from the great-grand mother, now deceased).

I am a grand parent 13 times over ! I too taught my son until about age 8 or 9 when we sent him to a teacher . I now teach his son ( age 6) and his daughter ( age 13). FWIW, I started the 6 yo with middle C and finding all other C's on the keyboard and continued until he knew the full scale. I'm having a hard time getting him to read the score, he wants to memorize the score just as his dad did. So at each lesson I point out each note he is playing and trying to get an association with the score going but at age six I also am not too concerned about this yet. I have him pretty much ready to play Jolly Old Saint Nicolas on Christmas eve which to me is not so bad considering he just started lesson with me in Sept. This is the second year with his sister, she is moving along well, reads very well and is performing something more advanced on Christmas Eve and also doing a duet with me on Christmas Eve.

I'm not up on any software solutions for teaching piano, sorry. But I did find a pretty decent resource online for teachers to get various pieces of music and certainly scales and chord charts from on a free download basis.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.