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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter has wanted piano lessons for a while, and a few months ago she started them. She is learning very quickly and making great progress - I am very impressed with how well she's doing after just a few months. But she expects that she is going to be a virtuoso immediately and gets frustrated by having to make an effort. I've told her she doesn't have to take piano lessons if she doesn't like them, but she says she loves them and doesn't ever want to stop.

She goes through the piano lesson book very quickly and with little effort, but the teacher gives her other, harder music to work on every few weeks in addition to the lessons. It seems to take her about three weeks to get one of these harder songs down. Those are the ones she complains about. The lesson book, which she finds easy, is no big deal. The teacher said she needs to go through the book even though it's so easy for her because she needs to learn all the different parts of music theory that are taught with each lesson. And she's very happy to do that. But when the teacher gives her something challenging she gets upset. She doesn't usually respond that way to challenges - she likes doing adult puzzles because they're harder, etc. It seems to be limited to the piano.

Has anyone dealt with this kind of frustration when learning to do something that doesn't come to your child immediately?
 

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Also-as a kid music came easily to me. But make sure that she's really learning how to sight read. Such a valuable skill, and my earlier teachers didn't realize (and neither did I) how much I was playing by hearing what was going on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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Originally Posted by plunky View Post
Also-as a kid music came easily to me. But make sure that she's really learning how to sight read. Such a valuable skill, and my earlier teachers didn't realize (and neither did I) how much I was playing by hearing what was going on.
Actually, we did notice this. She falls back on two things. First, her teacher used to play it for her once, and let her repeat it, and she'd just memorize what the teacher did and play it back and not actually read the music. So the teacher stopped with that and now my daughter has to read and play it through for her. And yes she was just playing by what sounded right to some extent, so now when the teacher chooses the more difficult music, it's usually music she doesn't know well enough to just recognize and play without reading.
 

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Your daughter and I seem a lot alike LOL

I naturally gravitated to the things that came easy to me. I'm very much a perfectionist, and when I struggle with things... it's frustrating!
 

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Absolutely, we've dealt with this. In fact, learning to deal with it is the whole reason I have my kids involved in music. It's an opportunity to learn how to tackle learning that has to be picked away at to be successfully mastered.

My kids benefited from being handed very clear step-wise expectations.

"Here's my idea for a plan. This week your goal should be to learn the right and left hand parts separately. On Monday, you'll work on the first half of the right hand. On Tuesday, let's work on the second half of the right hand. On Wednesday we'll review that. Then on Thursday and Friday, you learn the two halves of the left hand part. On Saturday and Sunday you can review all that and then work on playing each hand with me playing the other hand.

"Then next week we'll keep reviewing hands separately, but we'll work on putting two bars at a time hands-together. That will take eight days because there are sixteen bars. So by the following Tuesday you'll be at the stage of polishing and adding phrasing and dynamics. How does that sound? If you like that I'll make a chart that you can fill in as you master each part of the job."

Mechanically breaking large tasks down into small steps is something your dd will get very good at with practice, but if she's a perfectionist to whom most things come easily all of a piece, it'll take time for her to learn this skill. She'll need you to show her how to do it, and she'll need to be shown after the assignment has been given but before she's launched into it with her typical strategy and got frustrated.

Miranda
(mom to an almost-6yo piano beginner and three other music students)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Absolutely, we've dealt with this. In fact, learning to deal with it is the whole reason I have my kids involved in music. It's an opportunity to learn how to tackle learning that has to be picked away at to be successfully mastered.

My kids benefited from being handed very clear step-wise expectations.

"Here's my idea for a plan. This week your goal should be to learn the right and left hand parts separately. On Monday, you'll work on the first half of the right hand. On Tuesday, let's work on the second half of the right hand. On Wednesday we'll review that. Then on Thursday and Friday, you learn the two halves of the left hand part. On Saturday and Sunday you can review all that and then work on playing each hand with me playing the other hand.

"Then next week we'll keep reviewing hands separately, but we'll work on putting two bars at a time hands-together. That will take eight days because there are sixteen bars. So by the following Tuesday you'll be at the stage of polishing and adding phrasing and dynamics. How does that sound? If you like that I'll make a chart that you can fill in as you master each part of the job."

Mechanically breaking large tasks down into small steps is something your dd will get very good at with practice, but if she's a perfectionist to whom most things come easily all of a piece, it'll take time for her to learn this skill. She'll need you to show her how to do it, and she'll need to be shown after the assignment has been given but before she's launched into it with her typical strategy and got frustrated.

Miranda
(mom to an almost-6yo piano beginner and three other music students)
Aaah I like that! I'm not musical so I can't help her tackle it, but I can say, "Tonight, just work on the left and and the right hand separately and see how that goes, and then tomorrow maybe you can try putting them together." It would help if I were musical, I know, but I just don't have that going on. I really like that idea - I think she'd handle that better. Thanks!
 

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When it takes more then one or two tries to learn to a new song then YES it can be very frustrating... Music is a big part of my life and sometimes I still get annoyed and decided to forget the whole thing (until I can't stand it anymore and have to go back) when I'm learning something new.

Like moominmamma said, help her break it down into small parts. I personally prefer to work on one line at a time. For one thing, when she gets to the point where she's sick and tire of playing the same thing and making the same mistake every. single. time... and wants to hurl the music and the piano out the window, you can divert her attention and say "Lets do this part for a while now and take a break from that part."
 

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Ditto to the suggestion to break it down and start with just a few measures.

My other suggestion is that you and her teacher help train her to take a moment to notice what she's doing right and how she's progressed. Noting the achievement of those steps along the way will help her start to internalize there is more to it than just perfecting the piece. I've been really impressed by how well our son's music teacher has helped him recognize the parts he's doing well and what he still needs to work on.
 

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Being able to play both hands rhythmically and correctly individually before putting hands together is a very complex skill and each step is very important to acknowledge. My 8 yo is zooming on her piano curriculum and but she still gets so frustrated when she "can't" put hands together immediately!!! It's good for these kids to take a while to learn something, but not if they shut down completely.

Breaking it down is really the best option. Good suggestions previously. Hang in there.
 

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Try to find that sweet spot between too hard and not challenging - with my daughter, there's a point at which a challenge is good with her violin, but too much puts her over the edge - and it's often less than I think it ought to be!
So either break it down into pieces, as previously suggested, or make the challenge a little smaller in soe other way.

We also use learning violin as an opportunity to talk a lot about the importance of practice in learning skills - of all kinds - and my daughter is really starting to get this. We also talk a lot about how many things are hard at first and get easier if you stick with them, and apply this to other things she's learned how to do, like learning to walk, learning to ride her bike, etc. (I know that a lot of things come easily to gifted children, but there is probably something that she has had to go through a process to learn, like a physical skill.)
 

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My dd has been taking piano lessons for about one and a half to two years now, and this has been the most valuable lesson for her. She is a perfectioninst, and she likes to get things right and do them well (and with so many things, she is able to do this without too much effort). Dealing with the frustration of not being able to "get" challenging songs right away and without some focused practice has been so valuable for her! Now the frustration levels are down and the acceptance that she will need to work on it in order to do it well is stronger. But still, with a new piece that doesn't come easily, she needs to go through the process all over again, and work through the frustration. I find this a very valuable practice! Her pride and satisfaction when she masters a song or new technique that she initially found quite challenging is very powerful.

I think that, for her, setting up and sticking to a consistent practice routine helped. I help her when I can, playing with her or helping her break a song down into more manageable bits, but often I find that I feed her frustration by trying to help - staying nearby and supportive, but letting her work through it on her own often is most effective. Her teacher uses small snacks and treats as incentives during lessons, and while I am generally opposed to this on principle, and don't use incentives like this anywhere else in our daily routines, we incorporated "piano treats" into dd's home practice. Dd is in charge of them, and she gets one treat for doing her exercises each day, and one for her songs. That gives her motivation on days when she might not otherwise want to sit down and play. I like that she gives herself the reward - she puts it out on the piano and then takes it to enjoy when she is satisfied with her work.
 

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Just adding a quick "me too" to the list of people who are posting about their gifted childrens' frustration with music. It is the main purpose of music lessons for my gifted child, and her actual musicality and ability to play are secondary, in my view.
 

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I haven't had the experience yet as my DD is only 20 months, but how wonderful for her to have such progress at a young age! I am a piano teacher myself and it is such a treasure to be able to watch any student progress, but the musically inclined students, it's good to have that more instant gratification too sometimes.

When I was growing up though, I battled w/ my mother on practicing. I would typically pass my songs the next week unless they were the more challenging ones and I think being able to play other ones easier and then going to a more challenging song was frustrating because it doesn't have that "instant gratification." I don't know what would have worked for me necessarily, but it really takes time to get that patience for it. If she has only been at it for a few months, plus in your siggy it says she's 6, I think just after she gets a few of the songs and sees how neat that is, that might help. As some of my students had been with me for many years, I could see as they got older, they became better with the patience of having a more challenging piece too. One student (she was around 10) I saw a HUGE difference in attitude and willingness after we had a 4-5 month break (when i had my daughter) and it was simply because of her age/maturity level changing.

I'm not sure how her piano teacher does things, but does she play the piece for her to hear it before giving her the more challenging piece? Maybe if she got to select from a couple of different pieces first, then she might like it better because it could be one she chooses instead of the teacher. KWIM?
 
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