One of the biggest gifts to homeschool Ransom this year- other than Pinterest (ha!) has been Ransom’s piano teacher.
When we first set about having Ransom start piano this year, my goal was to feed his natural musical talent without quenching any enjoyment.
Well, from watching Ms Sharon in his lessons as well as following her instructions for me for his practice time- I have learned some great ideas that… Duh! I can carry over into other areas of learning! It just clinked that feeding the brain without quenching enjoyment was actually the goal of ALL my teaching!
So, here are some of the little techniques I’ve learned.
1. “Don’t worry about how long the concentration time is, as long as it is GOOD concentration.”
If I notice that Ransom is starting to get frustrated with a particular lesson, then I stave it off by telling him that the “next thing we are going to do” ( as though it was the plan all along) is do jumping jacks, or run three times around the house, or hop on one foot till we fall. This helps break the frustration, it also switches his brain to another challenge and helps it return fresh when we return to the piano challenge. Also. Boys. They are physical. Period.
2. Make repetition fun.
Before the beginning of each lesson I have Ransom pick out 3 jelly beans for his lesson. He then places them in a bowl and then as we start to practice he knows that most things I will have him play over at least 3 times. If so then with each repetition he will use his “pinchers” to move one jelly bean to each cup. When all the cups are full we dump them back into the larger bowl to start on a new repetition. This does several things: using the tongs focuses on a different muscle group for his fingers and brain. Getting up and crossing the room to move the jelly bean defuses any frustration, and the whole “game” makes having to do the same little practice over and over more fun.
Another repetition game is I have a certain number of Lego men next to me, and each time he plays the piece or the segment, he gets a Lego man to “line up”
Next to him. He loves this particular method of practicing.
And lastly, I draw a circle/face on a piece of paper and every time he does a command as I have asked he gets to draw a new feature on the face- a nose, an ear, some hair, or maybe an arm! If you think about it and depending on how creative we get, I can get a LOT of work out of him by the time the face is complete!
3. Lower my expectations.
My expectations on how long a practice session can be ( we’re doing about 20 minutes with a LOT of interruption) and just how engaged in the discipline of music Ransom is are things that I have had to adjust as we go. I continually return to my goal of “learning plus enjoyment” and even if we only get a little learning and a lot of enjoyment in then I call it a win.