How should be the parents discipline about their kids attitude towards music

Payam Abdollahi said: Jun 15, 2014
 1 posts

I am a father and I am living in Iran a country which is not listed in owners of suzuki trained teachers' ,but I really need some help 'cause my 9 years old children has passed his 9th month of piano lessons .I really love his style , at first 6 month he was really interested and followed lessons so well ….I know that he can be a good pianist as I have been an amature piano player too and can feel his improvement.gradually his improvement got slower and I think he has found piano lessons as something he manipulate to get more advantages out of me…..specially when I am trying to help him correct his mistakes in playing….day by day he gets more reluctant towards his lessons…..I really don't know what to do ..and I am afraid if my insist can make him far from music……pls help me
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Sarah Strickland said: Jun 19, 2014
Sarah Strickland
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
22 posts

Practicing with your child is a challenge! It can help to think how you would feel if your parent said the things to you that you say to your child.

Your child wants to look good in your eyes, wants your approval. Because of that, it is very important to be cautious about correcting things, because that can be interpreted by the child as criticism and disapproval, no matter that you only mean to help!

So what to do? 1.) Focus on what is already working. Search for anything that was done right, and point that out first. 2.) Separate the child from the actions—not "you played a wrong note", but "oops, your fingers were silly there!" Then—"can you be the boss of your fingers?" This is a fine psychological line to walk, but important. It can help make the child feel more in control, and also like they are not a "bad person" if their fingers mess up, they just need to help train their fingers. 3.) Remember that every relationship, including that of your child and piano, goes through ups and downs. When in a situation like this you may wish to back off a little or change tactics (something necessary anyway as the child matures both as a human being and a musician). But never give up!

Hope that is a helpful start.

Carolyn Smith said: Jun 22, 2014
6 posts

I find ( and keep reminding myself because I often slip…) that the less I say to my son during practice the better things go.. One helpful thing I did when he was younger was to create a nonverbal communication box that had a lot of silly items, toys etc in it to help remind him what he was supposed to work on. For example, I had a slinky in to represent vibrato, a stretchy animal that was a ritard, toy soldiers to represent tall fingers, a ribbon for long bows etc, etc. He would start to play his piece and see how many he could achieve. Or sometimes I would place them all in front to begin with and quietly take them away if something wasn’t quite right and he would earn it back. It was much less threatening than if I spoke. I. also used manipulatives for repetitions and had him determine how many he should do which was usually a compromise between how many I thought he should do.
And remember that sometimes kids have a hard time focusing on many things at a time that they need to correct so working on one thing at a time is often helpful—”Show me your tall fingers!” and then commenting only on that.
Spend at least half of your practice on things he does well and feels confident about and be very, very positive. It will help him feel better about taking risks learning new difficult things.—

Heather Reichgott said: Jun 23, 2014
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
96 posts

Carolyn, thank you for sharing those tips! I’m going to try something similar with my daughter.

Barb said: Jun 25, 2014
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Carolyn, I LOVE that idea of the non verbal communication box! Thank you for sharing!

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Sylviane said: Jun 27, 2014
 20 posts

I like how Sarah started by saying ‘Practicing with your child is a challenge!’
And it is indeed. I wish one of my parents would have sit with me during my 2 years taking piano lesson.
Now I have a daughter who plays violin and flute.
I also try hard to say less (I must try Carolyn’s ideas soon!), but I find the most challenging is to make her understand that the goal is quality not quantity. When she practices her working piece alone, what she would call practice is when she plays the song from top to bottom, and that’s it. Done! So when she practices or plays with me, we would pick a part on her working piece that needs the most work. It could be just a couple of measures, or even just a few notes, whichever you think she can handle. We would keep doing this part, first until for example she can get the tune right, then next until she would get the dynamics right, then we would add more details for example: vibrato, accent, etc. Usually by the time we reach these details, she would have memorized that specific part. Then we moved on to the next ‘challenging’ part. Of course sometimes she did not like the idea that we play only a chopped part of the song. So occassionaly just for fun, we would play through the whole song, just to get the idea on how long the song is, or I would ask her at the end, ‘how did you feel about that such long song?’ When she said, good, I would ask her, what do you think you need to do to make song sound much closer to the CD?
Or sometimes we would switch to do review pieces that she knows well, so she can play the whole song.
The bottom line is that don’t get discouraged practicing with your child. Yes, there will be lots of hurdles, but you need to persevere. Yes, they get bored or distracted easily, that’s where we need to come up with fresh ideas. Every time I felt so exhausted, or felt like I was going to quit, there is always something new came up, either I met another parent with similar story, or a teacher praised our work, or an article in the news talking about Dr Suzuki or music education. These would again uplift my exhausted brain and put me back in top shape to start looking for new ideas.
Hope this helps.

Gina Devirro said: Jun 27, 2014
 18 posts

Dear Payam,
There are some great responses on here, and as a fellow parent, I would just like to add that you are in good company. Once the excitment of learning something new begins to die, what you and your children are left with is all the hard work of learning and mastering an instrument. As parents, we set out convinced that with the right attitude, practice and learning will always be fun, and our children will always want to do it. We can try our hardest to make it fun, by using many of the great ideas listed above, but it will not always be so. Practicing, and the hard work it takes to learn an instrument are not child-like activities, and yet is something that is best done during childhood. So there is a natural conflict that arises in every parent/child relationship when the parent is invested in helping the child learn music. It is not your fault, and it is not your children’s fault. It is normal and common. I have come to understand and accept this by reading by Cynthia Richards. She explains the root of the conflict and offers many straighforward ideas on what to do about it. She even includes stories and quotes by some now famous musicians who describe how they would try to avoid practicing as children. How refreshing to think of these wonderful artists at one time being normal kids with the same discipline struggles that occur in every other family! I also love the quote by Edmund Sprunger who reminds us that no one can garden without getting dirt under our nails. Best! Gina.

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