I have a 5th grade student who is at the top of her class, and in ELP. Levels 1 & 2 she loved and always came to lessons prepared and excited. This year has been a struggle. She is almost done with level 3 but has not enjoyed it.. She hasn’t been motivated, and comes unprepared. Her Mom says she is bored. She likes to be challenged. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to challenge her with arr. or other projects, since she has had trouble getting the basics done. They are thinking about quitting.
Her Mom wants to know what is taught in level 4 before she purchases it. She wants to know if she will be challenged and my student is anxious to read music. I have only taught through level 3, so I can’t answer her questions. She is in private lessons now. I have one other student who is now in the same level and is very excited about it and works hard. I suggested putting the two together and hopefully that will challenge and motivate her. She is open to that. Hopefully that will take care of it. But just in case it doesn’t, I have two questions
- I would like an overview of what is taught in level 4
- Ideas on how to challenge and motivate her.
I did give her the Star Wars Theme song. We worked on melody and accomp. She enjoyed that.
Joy V., Texas
I can’t answer the questions about Level 4, because I am at the same place you are in teaching. However, because I came into this with the expectation of only teaching a maximum of 10 hours per week, my focus was immediately placed on group lessons. I can tell you with certainty that a multitude of problems and obstacles are taken care of just by having more than one student — preferably at least three together — and even MORE fun with five or six.
Even sibling groups will act the same way as a single child if there are not other students in the class with them. Younger student sees older doing better and gives up, or older student sees younger doing better and gives up, competition becomes bitter instead of friendly, or boredom sets in because they are always together anyway and there’s nothing new from a sibling to challenge them, whether musically or socially.
I have a 9-year-old who has done wonderfully until we had a gap between Foundation 2 and Foundation 3 where I was teaching some arrangements and began the Accompaniment Program (trying to keep the cost off parents of buying both Acc. and F3 materials at the same time). He became restless and bored. But I had time to address it, because he is in a class with another 10-year-old and my two daughters (12 and 14). He at his age and his level could not see the value of the Accompaniment, but was able to see from the success of the others where we were going with it and encourage him to find a project to work on. He saw my daughters choose an Owl City song and figure out how to play it and, not only did he begin to see the light, but Mom became even more determined to help him get through this because SHE saw the value.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
As far as an overview of what is taught in Level 4, I’m assuming you mean in terms of auxiliary programs? I always tell students toward the end of Level 3 about how they are entering a new phase of the program and are about to get into all kinds of awesome things –
- reading program
- blues & improv (if they’ve already started, I talk about how much more we’re going to do)
- accompaniment variations
- more complex foundation songs
This might seem overwhelming to some, but this is when I have a conversation about what they have done so far in the curriculum and where they are heading. (I talked about this in San Jose) – I acknowledge that up to this point they have been able to learn new songs pretty quickly along with other projects in arrangements, accomp., C&I. Now, they will get to spread their wings even more and learn other skills. But that means they can expect to move more slowly through each individual stream, because there are more streams to cover and the foundation songs take a bit longer to learn. I think it’s so important to convey this; otherwise students will often feel like their progress is too slow. From my experience, most students judge their progress by how quickly they move through the foundation levels and don’t consider the other streams. They sometimes feel as though they “never finish anything” because we don’t address every stream every week. They can’t see the forest, only the trees.
So I present the forest. I basically outline the curriculum overview chart on my white board and show them all the areas they are learning, talk about how they all enhance one another by working in them concurrently (“Can’t we ‘finish’ one area, like reading, before moving on to another?”), and how all of this produces the most well-rounded and talented musicians anywhere. I talk about the difference between the Foundation and Development programs and what they have to look forward to down the road. They are always curious about the upper levels.
I let them know they will be among the very first generation of musicians who are not limited to one or two specialized areas of music (e.g. classical pianist, jazz musician. composer, lyricist, great reader who is lost without music vs. non-reader who plays by ear vs. chord reader, etc.). They’ll have it all, and they’ll be able to develop any of those areas as much as they want, but still they will have the complete package. And that’s why we do all this stuff!
I’m a Simply Music geek, and they all know it. But I think my enthusiasm helps them to look forward to all the possibilities. Good luck, Kathy!