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<p>Not sure how to title this. My 6 yo just started piano in September and his teacher seems to start off really slow. After two months he is still doing pieces that only use one hand at a time (has "progressed" to two hands in the same piece but never at the same time). He IS learning and enjoying piano, but seems to sail through practicing and theory and doesn't have to think too much about it. His teacher has commented several times on how quickly he picks up on things and how she hasn't had anyone learn the notes so quickly, etc.</p>
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<p>The other day, for the heck of it, I pulled out MY old first grade piano book (good old John Thompson level 1). The first song in it used both hands. I asked if he wanted to try playing it. He needed some encouragement but we took it one line at a time and 3 days later he has the whole thing memorized and plays it very well! He loves playing it and hearing something that sounds like a "real" song. While it was a challenge to learn it, it wasn't beyond him and he kept at it and got a lot out of it.</p>
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<p>So today he had his piano lesson and played the piece for his teacher as a surprise. She thought it was great, praised him and said it was amazing that he could do that! Then she proceeded with the lesson exactly as planned and assigned the next piece in his book (still one hand at a time). While there are concepts in there he does need (rests, dynamics, etc.), I think he could easily skip a book or two of the system she is using. I even mentioned that and she said by next semester he would be doing two hands with the bottom hand being just chords (which still sounds easier than the piece he learned in three days this week).</p>
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<p>So... should I leave it alone until he seems bored? Continue to supplement him on my own using my old book but stay with this teacher? get a new teacher who is willing to work at his pace? I am not trying to push him, nor do I think he is a musical prodigy or anything (he is academically gifted, very math oriented and gets the music concepts very quickly). But I saw him just light up when he played that "advanced" piece and his teacher just seemed to be adamant that we stay on the course he is on and not skip even a few pieces. What would you do? He does like his teacher and piano lessons in general right now.</p>
 

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<p>I would leave it for now, if he starts getting bored then maybe bring it up. The fact is though, this sort of repetition is really common at the beginning, not just to learn the notes and what the music notation mean, but for muscle memory (much easier when you work one hand at a time) and sound memory. Basically doing it so that he can hear the song without actually playing it and play the song without actually sitting at the piano.</p>
 
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<p>maybe she would be willing to let him work at a faster pace for now, assigning two pieces a week instead of one? that way he's not skipping anything, but he has more to do during the week and would get to the more advanced stuff more quickly. most piano teachers start younger kids off really slowly because the typical 6 yo doesn't have the attention span to move more quickly, but since it's a private lesson, she should be able to accommodate different learning paces better. </p>
 

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<p>I agree with the previous posters. My 5 yo started piano in July and he is learning really quickly also, and the teacher is holding him back. I am happy with it--this gives him time to feel successful without much sweat, and it is necessary like MusicianDad said for building certain basic skills. Sometimes I let my son learn a couple of the next songs in the book and the teacher is happy about it--perhaps you could try this.</p>
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<p>The first cello teacher my older DS had held him back a lot (I mean not only did she have him polish pieces a second and third time around, but she had these elaborate graduations at the end of each Suzuki book that made him replay and review all the pieces previously played) precisely because she knew he was was musically gifted and she wanted to set him up correctly in terms of basic position.  It has definitely paid off in the long run. Even these days, his teacher and I both have to hold him from playing pieces he could potentially do (and would LOVE to play!!) but really should not until his technical ability is better and he is playing a full-size instrument. It is a delicate process but the bottomline  is you want your child to enjoy the music (s)he is learning and playing.</p>
 

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I am a piano teacher and I think your son's teacher is doing the right thing. First of all piano starts out easy and gets harder as you go along, and quickly! I used to have many students who seemed brilliant at first so i let them skip books, only to have them get frustrated when things got complicated. Now I take it slow. I want to make sure they know how to produce a good sound, how to read the notes AND rhythms , and understand how to make musical phrases. I can't tell you how many "advanced" students transfer into my studio who don't know the basics. It is very hard to unlearn muscle memory. Another important thing to keep in mind is that piano <i>can be</i> boring. It's one of those disciplines that simply isn't always fun. So many of my student's parents want their kid to have fun playing piano. I always think "well you picked the wrong activity!" I know that you want your son to feel challenged, but he will need to do a lot of boring scales and arpeggios etc, to build his muscles. A lot of it is going to be repetitive. One last thing..most piano teachers and professional musicians were gifted children themselves. Trust me, they understand giftedness!
 

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<p>Joining the chorus here. Muscle memory is important. Building a bomb-proof foundation is important. Time spent totally mastering the basics is always time well-spent. My youngest dd at 5 <a href="http://nurturedbylove.ca/fionatakapiano.mp3" target="_blank">was playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with an Alberti bass accompaniment</a> by ear before starting her first piano lessons. Her teacher took her through a level 1 primer book, hands separately, just like your guy. This same teacher eventually pushed my kid to play a simple student concerto at a music festival at age 7, and to master pretty advanced ear training and harmonizing skills typically assigned to tweens. In other words the teacher really did understand how to work with musically gifted kids. But she understood that even for these kids the early stages are best taken slowly.</p>
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<p>Miranda</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>scottishmommy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282950/another-piano-thread-also-dealing-with-teachers-not-getting-it#post_16086640"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br>
 I know that you want your son to feel challenged, but he will need to do a lot of boring scales and arpeggios etc, to build his muscles. A lot of it is going to be repetitive.</div>
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<br><br><p>I agree. I started on piano but played flute in band through college. The folks who didn't commit to the often boring work of scales really struggled when the music got harder. I can't imagine that skipping 1-2 books of piano 2 months after starting lessons would be a good idea for anyone.</p>
 

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<p>I'd be the voice of dissent here and say: get a new teacher. We had the same experience with ds's guitar teacher; he had no experience with kids and ds didn't learn almost anything with him in 4 months. He started with a new teacher 10 months ago and he's the most advanced in his age group, plays in concerts and learns so much. A good teacher makes a huge difference.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #9
<p>Thanks to everyone for the replies.</p>
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<p>For the record I am a musician as well and play piano, clarinet and flute. I understand the idea about muscle memory, etc. And I am not suggesting he skip over the basics at all. In fact she mentioned she would be starting him on scales soon and I think that is great. I simply wondered why he couldn't play music using two hands if he is capable of it. The book I had him work on was a beginning book, too, and the one I learned on (but it may not have been my FIRST book ever. I don't remember). I just saw how excited he got by being able to play a real song and thought it would help keep him interested and motivated if he could start playing more like that now, instead of months from now.</p>
 

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<p>My 6 year old started piano lessons about six months ago. Her teacher actually uses the John Thompson Easiest Piano Course.  She started on book 1 & is around 1/2 way through book 2.  I don't have a whole lot of musical knowledge (my DH does) but she has always been enthusiastic & has enjoyed playing songs from the get go. </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>musikat</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282950/another-piano-thread-also-dealing-with-teachers-not-getting-it#post_16093300"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Thanks to everyone for the replies.</p>
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<p>For the record I am a musician as well and play piano, clarinet and flute. I understand the idea about muscle memory, etc. And I am not suggesting he skip over the basics at all. In fact she mentioned she would be starting him on scales soon and I think that is great. I simply wondered why he couldn't play music using two hands if he is capable of it. The book I had him work on was a beginning book, too, and the one I learned on (but it may not have been my FIRST book ever. I don't remember). I just saw how excited he got by being able to play a real song and thought it would help keep him interested and motivated if he could start playing more like that now, instead of months from now.</p>
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<br><br><p>I'm curious if the book he's using is one specifically for "young beginners"? some series have a starting book specifically for kids younger than 7ish, and a separate starting book for slightly older kids. the young beginners books tend to be designed with the attention span of an average 5-6 year old in mind, and can go extremely slow. </p>
 

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<p>Since you are a musician yourself, my advice would be simply to have a conversation with your ds's teacher! I would just lay out what you've told us here, that you appreciate her work with the foundations, but worry that your son may be getting a bit restless, and ask her what she thinks would be best. Does she want him to play a few extra pieces with you, will she give him more work herself, or does she prefer to have him go slow for a few more months? Perhaps she'd be OK with teaching him a few easy Christmas carols or other holiday tunes to play just for fun?</p>
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<p>Once you find a teacher whom you trust, go ahead and take advantage of that trust by asking for the reasoning behind a course of action. I have learned with my own children's teachers that often, respectful questioning can lead to a deeper understanding between the two of you.</p>
 

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this<br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Bird Girl</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282950/another-piano-thread-also-dealing-with-teachers-not-getting-it#post_16093684"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p><br>
Since you are a musician yourself, my advice would be simply to have a conversation with your ds's teacher! I would just lay out what you've told us here, that you appreciate her work with the foundations, but worry that your son may be getting a bit restless, and ask her what she thinks would be best. Does she want him to play a few extra pieces with you, will she give him more work herself, or does she prefer to have him go slow for a few more months? Perhaps she'd be OK with teaching him a few easy Christmas carols or other holiday tunes to play just for fun?</p>
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Once you find a teacher whom you trust, go ahead and take advantage of that trust by asking for the reasoning behind a course of action. I have learned with my own children's teachers that often, respectful questioning can lead to a deeper understanding between the two of you.</p>
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<p>My 6 year old son started piano lessons at the beginning of October and he also started with Primer level David Carr Glover.  He has just finished the first book and is going to start level one next week.  She would assign him about three songs a week, but he is loving it and has been learning around 5 to 6 songs a week.  His teacher has told us to always let him go ahead if he wants.  I would either let my child go on even though the songs were not assigned or get a new teacher.  If my DS new the song at the next practice she would just cross it out and keep going.  This is the first thing our DS has gotten to do at his level and pace and he is loving it. </p>
 

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<p>Quote:</p>
<div class="quote-container">
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>mrvnsk9</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282950/another-piano-thread-also-dealing-with-teachers-not-getting-it#post_16101319"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>My 6 year old son started piano lessons at the beginning of October and he also started with Primer level David Carr Glover.  He has just finished the first book and is going to start level one next week.  She would assign him about three songs a week, but he is loving it and has been learning around 5 to 6 songs a week.  His teacher has told us to always let him go ahead if he wants.  I would either let my child go on even though the songs were not assigned or get a new teacher.  If my DS new the song at the next practice she would just cross it out and keep going.  This is the first thing our DS has gotten to do at his level and pace and he is loving it. </p>
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<p>This is what I would do, and in fact what I did with all my kids. Rather than second-guessing the teacher's pedagogical approach and skipping to another approach and another level, advocate for and facilitate acceleration through the pedagogical program the teacher has chosen. That way you needn't worry about gaps, and the teacher is fully cognizant of what is being learned and in what order. I only recall my youngest's pace but in her primers she did one "unit" every couple of weeks. Each unit was 6-12 pieces plus a few exercises and activities, so she was learning up to a half dozen little pieces a week. It worked fine for us and it worked fine for her teacher. I'd just ask at the lesson -- "If she wants to move ahead beyond what's assigned, is there anything we should be aware of? Any pitfalls we should watch out for?"</p>
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<p>Miranda</p>
 

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I'm not familiar with the program your son is using, but most programs have supplemental songbooks for each level that are more challenging than the main book but focus on the same skills. If you can get ahold of the supplemental songbook that would probably be better than moving faster through the lessons.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
<p>I think, after this past week's lesson, she is starting to get the idea. LOL</p>
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<p>He practiced only twice and knew everything perfectly. She has been assigning him one piece in his main book (and now one Christmas piece) per week. He is supposed to play it 3x/day and also review all the pieces he has played before, which he never does. At the lesson, she has him play the piece, then play it while naming the notes, then while counting. The last two he doesn't practice ever (although I think he is supposed to) and gets it right every time. This week he went through all that and she did skip one piece in his book, but only assigned one piece, plus a Christmas piece. Then she asked him the question that I think make her rethink: "Of all the pieces you have learned, what is your favorite to play?" Of course it was the one from John Thompson with two hands. She told me that after Christmas (he only has one more lesson before then) she would start assigning one of the Thompson pieces per week, along with the other book. :) I am happy with that. I don't care if she skips to a different method, but I just want him to stay excited and I could tell he was starting to lose interest in working on it because it was easy to just practice once and "get it." I think this will be a good compromise.</p>
 
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