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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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Its been awhile since I've taught a student this young. His tone is good, his ears are incredible for his age , and he is very bright. So, I got him on a warmup, constantly tell him to not puff his cheeks and to keep his left thumb on the thumb rest (he likes to move the whole thumb when he plays the octave key) , and am working out of the Rubank Elementary method in addition to his Pirates of the Caribean book and doing something by ear everyweek like Tequilla or a simple V7 pattern. He wants to do advanced band when its offered and I'm trying to tell him that a teacher is going to notice, tone, time and intonation most of all so he needs to really pay attention to that. He wants to lean back and pretend hes a wailin guitarist on stage. Like I said , he's talented but I need to get him across the basics. K
 

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Sounds like it's going to be a patience test for you. They say that a dog is about as smart as a 4-5 year old. Just think of him as being as smart as two dogs.
 

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Pgraves said:
Sounds like it's going to be a patience test for you. They say that a dog is about as smart as a 4-5 year old. Just think of him as being as smart as two dogs.
Two dogs together are half as smart as one dog by itself. Therefore, the kid is as smart as half a dog.
 

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Reedsplinter said:
Two dogs together are half as smart as one dog by itself. Therefore, the kid is as smart as half a dog.
But seriously folks. . . .

If this kid is as talented as you say, and if his ears are as good as you say, he is learning more than you think, even in spite of himself. Some kids have a hard time concentrating for very long, or staying on task for more than about ten minutes. Is it possible to break up his lessons into small segments of more or less easily absorbable material, or give him a series of goals that can be accomplished in a short time, and then let him beat his brains out against the wall for a couple minutes, then move on to something else? Likely his concentration, and lack thereof, has a rhythm: if you can set your metronome to his, rather than try to insist he sticks to yours, it might help.

And, like most kids, he will be absorbing lessons from you even when you think he isn't.

"Talent," whatever that is, will out. If he has it in him to get it, he will get it.

You, meanwhile, will want to jump off a bridge.
 

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Being around a 10 year old can be frustrating Keith. I live with it daily. Their attention span is really short. Sounds like your doing it right. It's more like a building block thing with a little at a time. Continue keeping it fun for him and he'll mature and start stepping up. Especially when he finds out he's not as good as he thinks he is and gets left out of the advanced band.
 

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Some students are physically and mentally ready to learn to play an instrument, but they lack the emotional maturity to adjust to the discipline required to make lessons and practicing an efficient learning experience. I have sometimes advised parents to give their younger children piano lessons to learn the basics of music first until they have developed the maturity to handle the "tone production skills" required of a band or orchestra instrument.

That said, my advise is to absolutely insist on good playing habits. This does not mean a harsh "crack the whip" authoritarian style of teaching. Insisting can be also be done in a kind, gentle and polite manner. Humor is often effective with young players when reminding them of fundamentals. My experience is that young players will meet or even exceed the teacher's expectations, provided that the expectations are realistic (age appropriate), the teacher has the requisite skills, and the teacher absolutely insists that the student use the techniques that have been taught.

John
 

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He's 10. He has no patience. Sounds normal to me.

Its been awhile since I've taught a student this young.
That's the key piece of information. :) You'll learn a lot from this kid.

If it's in his blood, he'll do it. If it isn't, he won't. That's all there is to it. All you can do is provide the opportunity for him to learn. He'll take if from there.

Too much discipline and too little fun has driven away many a potential prodigy.
 

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saxmanglen said:
Being around a 10 year old can be frustrating Keith. I live with it daily. Their attention span is really short. Sounds like your doing it right. It's more like a building block thing with a little at a time. Continue keeping it fun for him and he'll mature and start stepping up. Especially when he finds out he's not as good as he thinks he is and gets left out of the advanced band.
A 10-year-old squirrel is like Methuselah, no?
 

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Keith my heart goes out to you! I've had a few of these kids as students. Hang on to your butt 'cuz your may be in for a wild ride. The majority of my students are in the 10 - 14 year old range.

I usually give the kid what they ask for. He wants advanced band, give him advanced band. Pull out the hard stuff and insist that he employ ALL of the basics. Cheeks in, thumb on the rest, EVERYTHING. They have to have it performance ready by the next lesson. You will need to explain what you are doing with the parents.

My kids usually settle down after that. I allow the first 10 minues of our sessions for silly warm ups, then it's time to get down to work. If needed the last 5 minutes can be saved for more fun.

I'm not saying that this will work for your particular student. It has worked for me in similar situations.

If all else fails,,, After the kid leaves light up one of your favorite cigars and pour yourself a stiff drink.;)
 

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Seriously i don't know how you guys teach lessons
I have a few students but i'm very selective and turn down most opportunities to teach, I work some shifts as an RN and even though it's a hard job it's infinatly less frusatrating than teaching lessons on a daily basis
bravo to all of you for trying to pass it on
 

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A dose of reality - Advanced band music - Followed by a few tricks (Key signatures tell you almost every note that will be used in the piece!) (If you want to win a race would you rather run 100 yards or 50 yards against that big fast guy? Keeping your fingers on the pearls is like running 50 while the other dude runs 100!) can do wonders for a kid who just discovered that some stuff is hard.

Presenting basic technique as a trick to be better than the other guys can really motivate them to work at it. After all, isn't basic technique about being the best you can be? Showing them why they should know that stuff in a manner they are ready to understand and apply can work miracles.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've taught alot so handling this kid won't be a problem. And I guarentee that I won't let him leave me with puffy cheeks, head tilted, fingers off the keys, thumb all over the place and leaning back like a guitarist. I just wanted any techniques that you guys employ to get his attention back on what we're doing. I'm giving him a fast paced lesson, picking up on things he plays and showing him next steps, giving him stucture so he learns how to practice which is almost more important than how to play and I record every lesson, cut him a Cd so he can listen to what I told him in the lesson. I view teaching him as a lesson for myself in being a better teacher. K
 

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IMHO: Maybe he needs some praise? Some boys need that a lot. He could be trying to be "cool" with you because he's not sure of his ground. But make sure you're praising something that's worth praising. Then you've got leverage to tell him really straight when he's getting it wrong. Most boys like that too. I'm saying that the appearance of "impatience" may be something he associates with being "cool".
 

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Rooty, You may be on to something. Some young men at this age do confuse acting the fool with cool. I've called it the "Show-off Syndrome" when my girls have asked why little mister so-and-so is acting like such an idiot.

I think you're right. Stroke the little ego when things are done properly. This method seems to work fine for Hubby/Son Training.
 

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EastCoastGhost said:
Seriously i don't know how you guys teach lessons
I have a few students but i'm very selective and turn down most opportunities to teach, I work some shifts as an RN and even though it's a hard job it's infinatly less frusatrating than teaching lessons on a daily basis
bravo to all of you for trying to pass it on
If you find teaching frustrating, then why are you teaching period?
 

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Take the hard line: Assign him some action items for his next lesson, but tell him that if he makes any mistakes on his homework, the lesson is over. It could be 2 minutes into it... a few short lessons and his parents will notice. ;-)
 
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