Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning piano?

From: Hughes <>
Date: Mon Dec 5 13:59:01 2005

Hi Matt,
I teach piano and vocal coach. Wish I had a nickel for every person I meet
who quit taking lessons cause they didn't like their teacher/music/needto
practice. I have never ever met a musician who was really good and enjoying
it and playing for his passion, who is doing it because he was forced to
practice. I have met a number of people who play really lousy because they
weren't given the tools to practice in a way that worked for them. I have
42 students right now. About one third of them do not want to learn to read
music yet. About one third of those are playing great pieces like 12 bar
blues, Moonlight Sonata, etc. When they want the tool of reading music, it
will only take about a couple of months to learn it. But in the meantime
some of them have been learning by wrote how to play some pretty fabulous
pieces. A number of my students are starting to practice as I'm leaving.
Forced learning is particularly non-productive with music. I start kids
right off with composing. They play it, I write it down. Pretty cool stuff
happens this way. I tell the parents that I don't want them to be the
practice police. Reminders maybe, but no more. It's my job to give them
something to do that excites them. I tell first lesson students I have one
very important rule. They must absolutely must have fun. There's a lot of
laughter in my lessons. Joy and music are synonyms. If not, it's just a
matter of time before they quit. If someone wants their child to play an
instrument, then take them to hear live music. Play it yourself. The
desire has to come from the child. That's my job, to be aware of what is
and is not working for them. A lot of musicians have been taught in a very
rigid way themselves and simply pass it on. I was damn lucky to have a
teacher who saw my talent and challenged me like all get out. Gotta go now.
Just bought myself a brand new 7' grande. Hey, I have to fill my cup with
joy in order to give it out.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Matt Schick" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 11:29 AM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning piano?

> Hi. I'm new to this forum (and to the Sudbury model in general). A
> question:
> In my experience, there are things that I have learned (musical
> instruments and foreign languages
> jump to mind as the best examples) where, after an initial period of
> interest/excitement when
> starting out, things get really difficult - you're working uphill towards
> a goal that's way off in
> the future somewhere, there's very little benefit in the present (just the
> opposite, actually - a
> whole lot of dull repetetive practice), and it's VERY tempting to give up.
> But after a while (a
> year or two? more or less?), once you start getting good, it becomes
> enjoyable in and of itself.
> In a Sudbury school, how do kids come to recognize that hill and what it
> takes to get over it? I
> know that I would have given up flute within the first year if my parents
> hadn't pushed me to keep
> practicing - but in the long run, I'm VERY happy they did.
> You know, that's not actually my question. I think I already have a feel
> for how you'd answer that
> one. Here's the real question I think I want to ask: If you have 8-year
> old kids and you make them
> practice piano 30 minutes a day (despite any resistance they may put up),
> the kids may hate it at
> the time, but by the time they're 16 they'll almost surely be REALLY happy
> that they can play the
> piano pretty well. What would you say about that? Where's the harm? I know
> that it goes COMPLETELY
> against the Sudbury model, but still... Small price to pay, maybe? Or does
> it completely ruin the
> adult/child relationship? Or destroy a child's sense of his or her own
> power in life? (And not to
> mention that trying to get a kid, or anyone else for that matter, to do
> something that he/she
> doesn't want to do is NO fun at ALL...) I don't doubt that there IS harm
> done, I just can't seem
> to find it myself. So I'm asking you.
> [When I was 16, I would REALLY liked to have been able to play piano (both
> of my parents can play)
> and speak French (my mother's bilingual). Of course, I can learn these
> things now (and am in the
> process of doing so), but...]
> Thanks.
> - Matt
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Received on Mon Dec 05 2005 - 13:58:08 EST

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