How to Remedy a Sloppy Playlist
Maureen K., California
I have a group of adults where one is much faster than the others. I finally moved the faster one out of that group… should have done it sooner. Meanwhile, I moved too fast for the slower two people, partly because I wanted to make it better for the faster person, partly because I am a newish teacher who tends to want to move forward each week.
The two left in the group are on Ode to Joy RH. Meanwhile, one of them in particular cannot play any of the songs on her playlist well. She uses wrong fingers and makes a lot of mistakes.
How do I fix this? Do I stop moving forward until both of them play everything well? If so, how do I explain that? Or can I remedy one Foundation song at a time while moving forward slowly in the Accompaniment program, which interests both of them? What to do when I, and they, let their playlist get out of hand?
Joanne D., Australia
I would take her back to doing the patterns on her fingers and saying out loud and using the paper keypad and only playing it on piano when she has success there. Have them use the SHM video with their paper keypad at home regularly.
Accompaniment is a good option if they can play C, F G chords fluently and perhaps getting each student to play 1 hand only, and you can play the other part for them. You could do an accompaniment from the arrangements programme so that it still sounds great when they are playing only 1 hand at a time.
I’m only new too but I would suggest not moving any further up the foundation ladder until they have mastered the earlier songs.
Louise H., Michigan
My guess is that your student is 1) not using the SHM video, 2) not practicing enough, and 3) correcting by ear. Part of the SM process for students is learning to think in patterns to guide their playing rather than letting the ear dictate what should be played next. One way to check this is to have them use practice pads. Don’t let them touch the keys until they can execute the pattern correctly on a pad. I am using pads more and more, even in private lessons.
Talk to her too about how much time she is spending practicing. Really, for an adult, these songs are so easy they should be able to master what you give them in a week, unless there are other things getting in the way of learning–IF they are practicing daily. I would teach some of the arrangements until she can get those songs under her fingers. Sometimes a bit of peer pressure works, if the student realizes that they are holding the class back.
If it were me–I would not go back and reteach songs. If the student has not done the required assignment to learn the song, they can use the video to teach it to themselves. I have told my students that I don’t repeat lessons. Sometimes we need to have a lesson that is just review and fun, because constantly learning new material each week can get overwhelming.
I do recommend that you take care of these kinds of issues ASAP. It is much harder to change later.
Nicole O., California
A couple ideas come to mind. These are things I’ve tried:
- You could let them know that you’ll be doing a playlist review at the next lesson. Have them spend time reviewing their materials as needed to prepare for this. At the playlist review (in which you spend the entire lesson [or a portion] going over songs in the list), you can re-teach sections or songs, if necessary. Their assignment for the week would have specific instructions about what to “fix”.
- You could definitely keep moving forward… but at a snail’s pace, until the playlist is revived. In other words, if you’re teaching Ode to Joy, give them a very small portion (M to T, T to B, B to M), and then review songs that need work.
- I rarely re-teach the same material in a lesson. If the information is on the video, they can learn it at home. I will, however, ask them to come prepared to “teach” me the song. Or I’ll have them teach their parent and the parent will play the song for me the following week.
- As much as possible make them responsible for their own learning. They come to class, they listen, they follow instructions, they observe, they do and they teach. If they’re not following the student video at home, then get the video out during the lesson and show them how to learn with the video.
Do your students know the importance of the playlist? That it’s the foundation for all learning and that just like building a house, if pieces of the foundation are missing, the house will not stand strong.
One more thought about making them responsible for their own stuff…
A few years ago, I went to a therapist/healer who taught me an excellent lesson about responsibility. He asked me to stand and he gave me a rope. He sat in a chair. He asked for help to stand and I gave him the rope, which he dropped immediately. I picked it up and gave it to him again. And he dropped it again. At some point it clicked within me that THIS is what I had been doing in my life. It had shown up in many of my relationships and certainly my relationships with students and parents. I was eager to help, but to a fault. Now I see myself giving my students and their parents the rope when I’m teaching and they can pick it up or not. The ones that pick it up become self-reliant; and those that don’t usually don’t last long in my studio.