Thursday, September 24, 2009

in the eyes of a child....

I have a new 7-year-old piano student. He is quite special. Highly-intelligent and doesn't want to be treated like a kid.

During our first session last Friday, he urged me to talk to him like an adult. He was annoyed about the fact that I explained everything to him twice. He was also insulted upon realization that I was choosing carefully my words. Finally, he had an outburst. Begged me to stop talking to him like he was a freaking moron.

Truth is, I was not talking to him like he was a moron. I was merely explaining to him the elements of music, which frankly speaking, is quite difficult for a child to grasp. At least, that's what I have observed from my almost 20 years of teaching experience. I don´t normally talk about elements of music on the first lesson. But he reported to me that he read a book about it, and that I must tell him what I know about the subject matter.

The boy told me he knew everything there is to know about melody, harmony, pitch, timbre, meter, and tempo. Maybe, he did too. I mean, he showed me the book on Music Theory to support his claim. So I told him that just because he read the book, doesn't mean he knows everything.

He challenged me to ask him anything. So I did.

Since he wanted to be treated like an adult, I started talking to him like I was giving a lecture to my former university students. I played an excerpt from Schubert's sonata in B flat, and asked him to tell me what he thinks about the timbre of that piece of music. He stared at me, with mouth wide opened. More annoyed.

So I said, all right... how about this one? I played a portion from Mozart's Theme and Variation on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. This time, I asked him to tell me about the chord progression and how it developed in those two sections. He became upset.

For the record, I was not bullying him. I was merely driving at a point. The point being: Enjoy what is here now, and right now, he is a child. I told him that he will only be a child once. Just once. He should not rush to adulthood.

He was silent.

While I was saying those things, I can imagine that the mother was listening intently. After all, she was sitting by about 6 meters away from us only. She warned me of course, about his son´s IQ. But I have established before that I will not be terrorized by a kid. Not in my house and certainly not about music.

Bottom line, the child may have the IQ of a genius but we, adults, have the years of experience and wisdom. I don´t know if what I did is right, or might have scarred or even traumatized him. So maybe, I too don't have the wisdom. I don't know.

So he read a book. Big deal. I spent more than half of my life, learning practically everything that I now know.

And this much I know. As a teacher, I feel that it was also my role to educate his emotions. After all, music is about feelings too. It´s about knowing with your senses. If he can´t control himself and his emotions, he has no business to learn how to play the piano, especially because music needs time and patience. Lots of patience actually.

So yes, in the eyes of this specific child, music is quite simple. Maybe, he has everything figured out. Theoretically speaking, perhaps. Who knows? But the practical side... I bet it is as alien to him as reggae is to a Tibetan monk. :)


buday said...

Beri gud, madir! I think you did the right thing. If you didn't gain the child's (and his mother's) respect with that, then they need MORE sessions with you, hehe.

So, will they be going back for lessons?

Jesusa said...

you are such an insightful teacher. i wish i could be your student. balyo na didi,LOL..

cherie said...

wow, you really ahd him there. i agree witht aming the emotions. matthew is not quite that brilliant but he is a VERY impatient boy, and cries in frustration when i am too 'dumb.'

Droomvla said...

@buday: They're coming back on Friday. The mother did not say anything. As for the child, he left with a smile and told me see you next Friday. He did not take it personally, I guess. For that, I give him an A plus. hahahaha

Droomvla said...

@Jesusa: Thanks. Kunyari lang ina. HAHAHAHAHA

Droomvla said...

@Cherie: The boy was rather sport actually. He was quite upset during the lesson, but afterwards he was okay again like nothing happened. hahahaha Ah... the innocence of a child. :)

Whitemist said...

Obviously correct, many things come naturally, many from experience. it us adults who now know that, but a child can not.
My parents tell me that a 3rd grade teacher told them I would never become anything in math or science because I did not get it. My 6th grade teacher tried to trick me and had special grading for me because algebra came so easy.
My current profession? A published chemist.
Who know?

Sol said...

once a teacher, always a teacher indeed!... bow talaga ako sa imo. hoy, di mo lang tabi sya inturuan piano, inturuan mo pa sya disiplina and lesson on facing life. life is music baga. eventually, he would realize that.

Droomvla said...

@Sol: na payt mo ini Sol. Dinale mo na naman ako! **blush** HAHAHAHAHA

Droomvla said...

@Whitemist: Teachers are people too. They also make mistakes. My highschool music teacher (who was not really a music teacher because she´s a math major) did not have much faith in me as a pianist then, and asked somebody else to play (accompany on the piano) for the school´s Choral group during a national competition.

Well, I´m a musicologist now. :)

Anna said...

most of the time an mga genius na batit kaipuhan talaga mag reality check kay sanay sinda sa intiro omaw lang. very good, teacher!

btw, mrs. a rejected me when i auditioned for the choral group. nian may trauma na ako sa videoke, hahaha.

Droomvla said...

@Anna: Amo, ano? San Friday, nagkadi naman for another lesson. San pag switch on ko san ilaw, nagshort circuit nan puminotok an bulb. Mala idto kay gin istoryahan ako na dili man si Thomas Edison an nag imbento san ilaw. British kuno. Nalimot ako san ngaran kay di man ako interesado nan half-listening ako ako saiya. HAHAHAHAHA Tapos, may follow up pa siya na kaya kuno puminotok kay hallogen bulb kuno. Anay makunswelo na batit! An kaluluwasan sadi, mas damo ako mauukodann saiya ada! HAHAHAHAHA

Aledys Ver said...

How remarkable! And I admire your attitude and your approach. Teaching him how to play the piano AND a little humility - that is certainly Dutch: twee halen, één betalen lol!!