Student having trouble playing Night Storm
Heidi M., Canada
I have encountered a problem that is new for me. One of my students (8 years old) has trouble with the sets of two fingers in Night Storm. She can tell me which are the three sets of two and what to do with them (play each set of two twice) and she can do the right thing off the piano, but then on the piano she mixes them up. Also, sometimes she gets right and left confused (when I refer to RH sometimes she thinks I mean LH). I wonder if she has dyslexia.
Her parents do not speak English well so it is hard to know from them; they are new immigrants. For sure I will spend even more time with her off the piano (hands and practice pad) and keep it slow. Any other suggestions? She really seems like a bright kid and is enthusiastic and fortunately does not seem discouraged. But still I want to help her out of this challenge.
Ian M., Indiana
Help her by putting your hand over hers (RH only) and playing the sets of two, so that your fingers are pressing hers down. Nice and slow! and pause between sets of two. After all three sets, take your hand away and say “point to the first set of two with your other hand”. When she gets it right, repeat the hand-over-hand exercise with just that set of two. Do the second and third sets the same way. It might help to say “top, bottom, top, bottom” while doing this (and to have her say it too). Then move on to identifying sets of two as above and then letting her play them on her own. The final step for the RH is to do it without the intervening ID of sets of two, and after that is complete, move on to playing with both hands.
This approach will get how it feels into her hand and brain, and give her time to process it while having more support for a longer time.
It may be that you do this more than once, and it may be that you don’t do the whole thing at once. You have to be the judge of how much content to deliver at once, the same as the rest of the method.
The thing to recognize is that everyone can do the things we’re asking them to do; the trick is being open to thinking through the problem – sometimes in a way that is unfamiliar. Though as you encounter more problems, you begin to be able to class certain ones together and unfamiliarity starts to recede into the background.
Also, to help with RH/LH confusion, as you give her instructions, touch the correct hand. For a while. After a while, withdraw that support and see what happens. If the confusion persists, I’m not sure what to do next, though you can certainly go back to touching the correct hand.
Leeanne I., Australia
I think (the mixing of left and right hands) is to do with multiple thought processes of what the fingers are doing plus having to press the keys down. If they can do it away from the piano, the problem is going too quickly at the piano. Don’t make a big issue of the mistake, slow it down. I have a student at the end of Level 1 now who had this issue, and he is doing great now. Some students just need longer to process.
Kerry V., Australia
I have two stuffed toys: Ruby Right and Lilly Left. Ruby Right sits at the right side of the piano. I think you can guess where Lilly sits ;). That has been helpful for children and adults alike.