Friday, June 26, 2009

J&J Update

I didn't imagine it. It was really true. Weeks ago, months ago, a year ago, Jillian (and, when his turn came, Jason) took it upon themselves to get on the piano and practice what their teachers had asked. Not much, mind you... 10, 15 minutes at a time. But that was all PT had asked for. These days, not so much. We are having to get on them about it, and they are resisting.

It started subtly, with Jillian telling me that she didn't need to practice, either because she already had, and / or because she knew her assigned pieces for the given week. I didn't push back, because, after all, she was progressing (and continues to progress) in her lessons, and likes them very much. But it was troubling, as the Spring wore on, when she seemed to over-report her weekly practice times for her teacher. (PT, as you may recall, gives out little pieces of candy if you practice 3 times per week, more for more.) We talked to Jillian briefly about it, and it seems to not be a problem anymore. But the precedent was set.

Jason, as you know, started lessons recently. And it's been more problematic with him. In fact, the other day, we actually pushed back when it was time to actually go to practice.

"Dad, I never said I wanted to go do piano lessons."

"Jason, yes you did. You were totally excited about it."

"No, you asked me if I wanted to take piano lessons, but I didn't answer you!"

In fairness to the kid, he had swim class earlier in the day, spent the entire afternoon at a neighbor's pool, the day was the hottest in two years, and he fell asleep shortly after arriving at piano lessons (Jillian had the first 30 minutes). He was exhausted. But when I picked him up at the end of lessons? Totally fired up, totally excited, and did a great job (according to PT). Couldn't wait until next week.

Since then (it's been three days)? Neither Jill nor Jay (insofar as a I know) have touched the piano. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. Getting them to practice is like trying to conduct an orderly Goat Rodeo. With all the competing stimuli, it's hard to make the Chief Characters focus on the task at hand. Summer is screaming at us: "POOL! DS! PLAYSET! Wii FIT! LEMONADE STAND! FRIENDS! DS! ICE CREAM!" Tough to fit a lot of piano in there.

It's hard to get motivated to play the piano when there is $8.60 to be made selling lemonade.

We'll monitor this. Piano is something they have both shown interest in, and we aren't going to say "Ok, fine" at the first sign of resistance. Especially when they also seem to like it, once they get there.

- Aw2pp, taskmaster.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I have this same problem with my 7.5 year old. She and I are both taking lessons (same time; different teachers). I don't want Piano to become a chore for her, as I know she really does enjoy it a lot! She will push back when she's really tired or has already decided in her mind she wants to be doing something else. She has also told me "Lessons are boring, all you do is play the piano". That makes me laugh. Further discussion with her reveals she likes doing recitals and playing for people. Most days when she says things like that she's just super tired.

I've found that if I can get her to sit down at the piano for just one song, she'll often do a bit more. instead of saying "K go practice!" I try, "Hey can you play me song such-and-such? I really like hearing it".

Also I've tried to add some idle time in the morning after she eats breakfast and before we have to leave for the day and I suggest - why don't you play a song on the piano? 4 out of 5 times this works. Dad thwarted me this morning by giving permission to watch tv first, so by the time I was able to suggest Piano an alternative, it was too late ;)

We also sometimes play "Piano school" where I sit next to her as the teacher and she plays, and we act like it's a real lesson. This usually works really well and lets me check her technique and that she's doing her dynamics and counting correctly.