Following are suggestions to optimize learning in the lessons:
Please make a habit to set up your child promptly with their bench/footstool and books, and put the assignment sheet on my piano. Even older children need some help to make this step go quickly. This is best to do as soon as the previous student is finished. Next, you can organize you notes and score, and work the video. This will be a non-verbal signal to your child about the importance of the lesson time. Therefore in this time it is best if the adults do not talk too much.
It is better to talk casually after the lesson.
2. Assignment Sheet
Please provide an assignment sheet that is filled out with the main point of the lesson, and the main points on each piece that were covered at the last lesson.
It is also important to have the review pieces listed. This is also a signal to your child about the importance of the assignment and your role in helping them. Also, with a clear assignment sheet I can follow through with the assignment and provide continuity.
Please turn off all electronic devices so that the children are the total focus of attention. Electronic games can be engaging. When siblings are playing with very interesting toys like this it makes the concentration at the piano a little harder. Texting by the parent can be especially distracting, and can make a child feel that they are actually being neglected by their parent, even though the parent is “present”. Many teachers and researchers are coming to this same conclusion. Dr. Karen Hagberg wrote about this in her recent article in Piano Basics. She references Dr. Sherry Turkel, the Director of Technology and Self at MIT, author of the book “Alone Together:Why we Expect More from Technology and Less from each other. Dr. Turkel says that “mobile connectivity allows us to bail out of the physical realm at any time.” You can watch her TED talk video which is very interesting:
Sherry Turkle – TED Talk
When the adults are totally focused on the lesson the children will best be able to concentrate.
4. Observe without interference
Please observe the lessons without instructing your child to pay attention, or giving other directions. It is the teachers responsibility during the lesson to nurture the child’s attention and behavior. You can observe the process of learning this way. It may be that I allow the child more time to get ready, or learn through doing without giving the answer. I may be allowing the child to learn through experience that if too much time goes by without focused attention there is not enough time for the new piece, or the make-up song, etc. In the long run this will develop concentration and motivation much more than verbal directions about concentrating or hurrying up. So, please observe what is ignored as well as what is affirmed. Please take notes and also use the musical score to refer to. It works well to put some notes such as the spots directly onto the score. Other notes may be better in a notebook. Keep a main point for each lesson. It is good to keep a notebook that you can look back on months later and reflect on the progress, and the points to stay focused on.
The child will feel your concentration and attention, and without the judgement will be able to turn all of their attention to the learning.
5. End of Lesson
At the end of the lesson I will summarize the main points. This is a good time to ask any questions about the assignment. Next, please help your child clean up the environment (stuffed animals back in place, etc.) Often this is also a casual time to talk and that is important too. Most of the time logistical questions can be saved for e-mail. Please be mindful of the next students lesson time and leave quietly.
After the lesson on the way home, please affirm what your child did well, and talk about what you will work on for the next week.
Thanks so much for your part in making the lessons an environment for optimum learning experiences.