View Full Version : If you're a complete music idiot

09-23-2012, 04:31 PM
If you're a complete music idiot - can't read music, carry a note or play even a kazoo - how do you help your kids practice their instrument and answer their questions?

09-23-2012, 04:53 PM
I am learning with him. So far, I am able to keep up. I did have one semester of piano in college but had forgotten almost everything I learned. I do think he would progress more rapidly if I had a better sense of rhythm.

09-23-2012, 05:09 PM
We do art instead.

If she really wanted to play an instrument, she of course could, but aside from enforcing practice times I couldn't help her.

Stella M
09-23-2012, 05:20 PM
Learn with child. The sum of our musical talent is recorder though - but nice wooden German ones! - dd14 and I can play some pretty duets :-)

Both of us learning cello might have been tricky !

Idk, beginner anything, it's not hard to stay a lesson ahead. You could always help the boys make notes about their questions/your queries to be addressed by the teacher at the next lesson.

09-23-2012, 05:21 PM
Zack is in his third year of piano and on his third teacher. I think we've found a keeper. If he's having a problem during practice, she suggested I record what he's doing so she can take a look and correct him during the lesson. The only concrete feedback I can give is, "something doesn't sound right."

09-23-2012, 05:51 PM
For the first little while, I learned along with him (piano), but about half way through his second year, I just couldn't keep up anymore. My role is to encourage/cajole/enforce regular practice times, and occasionally to make my husband help him (because he can play several instruments, he's just never around).

I tried to encourage my son to ask the teacher about problems he was having, to figure out ways to keep working even when you're stuck, to work on a different song or a different section of the song, or at least practice his scales & drills, etc... Even when he's stuck, there are lots of things he can still do until it's time for the next lesson.

09-23-2012, 06:33 PM
I'm not in the lesson, so I'm not sure how to learn alongside! This week's homework was a bit of a mystery, honestly. And I had no idea what to tell the kids to do, even reading the book several times.

09-23-2012, 06:49 PM
We just sing songs. A lot.
He's used YouTube a bit for guitar.
And he occasionally gets back into his piano and flute - usually just for brief periods.
Dh has taught him the basics on those two, and once in a blue moon they'll play together,
which would probably count as our most formal musical training.

09-23-2012, 07:50 PM
I sit in for my 7 year old's piano lessons but I still have trouble sometimes when he needs help. Luckily they recently started putting all of their music online. The instructor demonstrates how to play each song. Very helpful.

Little Brownelf
09-23-2012, 07:55 PM
That's when I' d discuss the issue with the teacher.

09-23-2012, 08:31 PM
Yeah. I'm sure it's not a huge deal this once, but I'm also sure it'll happen again and again and again...

But they like music, so there's that. :)

09-24-2012, 07:34 PM
My son took a group piano lesson for the first three years. I made my husband take him in Year 3, because I was baffled. He had private lessons for the fourth year, but I sat there, so at least I had a clue what songs/topics he was working on.

Fortunately, he absolutely LOVES theory and had no trouble with the concepts/books/homework. He has lots of technical knowledge, but his struggle is to make it sound like music when he plays.

09-24-2012, 08:39 PM
For day two, I ended up sending dh down there to the basement to supervise practice instead. At least he can read music. I think that worked WAY better. Maybe I've found something for him to oversee. Problem is he's not always awake in the mornings when the kids need to do their practice, but that's minor details.

Stella M
09-25-2012, 07:58 PM
Ah, outsourcing, the answer to all things :-)

That's a good solution.

The longer I'm doing this gig, the more in favour I am of finding the right person for the job. There is a limit to how many subjects you can be mistress of.

09-26-2012, 06:43 AM
Ah, outsourcing, the answer to all things :-)

That's a good solution.

The longer I'm doing this gig, the more in favour I am of finding the right person for the job. There is a limit to how many subjects you can be mistress of.

I agree! I outsource music issues to my DH too, although I do have to oversee and enforce practice time. I don't think it's bad to admit that I know nothing about music and simply can't help, other than to offer support and an interested ear.

10-03-2012, 10:48 AM
I can't carry a tune and only know a tiny bit of music so this is how I'm teaching music in a fun way-

Because I am probably older then most here, and Dd (12yrs.) aspires to be a songwriter, I use Folk Rock to teach Music, Poetry, Science and History. I found a list online of over 60 Folk Rock Singer/Songwriters. My Dd has to research the particulars of birth, death, awards, albums and political/activist issues that surround each artist. She then listens to 5 songs by the artist and picks out one poetic song by each writer to study in more detail. She get's credit in history when she uncovers any historical facts in the songs. Right now she is studying (scrapbook style), Joan Baez (The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down), Neil Young (Old Man), Harry Chapin (a humanitarian), Gordon Lightfoot (Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald), and Joni Mitchell (an environmentalist). We have dates scheduled to see several of the 60 artist in concert in a crowd of old grandparents who no longer bring drugs with them to concerts. This will count towards 1 high school credit.

10-11-2012, 11:33 AM
My kids have taken private piano lessons (1x week) for several years now. I played clarinet from 4-8th grade but went down the honors track in high school and didn't keep up with it. Now I don't remember how to read music at all, which is a shame. Hubby played drums (self-taught) during his school-age years and was in a series of failed bands during that time. ;) So we own a very nice drum set which the kids have always liked banging on. We bought a piano when the kids started with that. The kids have to practice 15 minutes a day, each. I have never been to a single piano lesson since they started, as hubby always takes them. So he knows what they are supposed to be working on and I really have no clue. But I do sense when they are rushing through a song or it things seem "off." My little smartypants son tricked me for TWO WEEKS because our piano is a digital hybrid, and has a record/playback feature. So that little snot recorded his piano practice and then played it back for the rest of his daily practices while he read books. I only figured it out because I went upstairs one day (normally I am making dinner during their practices) and caught him. OMG. :mad:

I can't help the kids with music but I CAN call their music teacher (who is wonderful), I do look things up on google, and sometimes I tell them to write their question down until we can ask it to someone who knows.

ETA: I help with music history and music appreciation, though. I plan outings to the Kennedy Center (we go to the NSO holiday pops concert each December as part of our holiday traditions ... won't be the same without Marvin Hamlisch who died recently :()... we love the free performances on millennium stage and the free shuttle from Foggy Bottom metro is awesome. We also see local performances and even go to high school ones. I have gotten them books on composers and we've downloaded a ton of classical music as background music for breakfast time and other times.

10-11-2012, 01:58 PM
As a music teacher of 40 years with 10 years of teaching in public school, I have, for the past 20 years taught mine and other children through home school. Find yourself a home school music teacher, or a musician that is home school sympathetic. I work with other musicians who donate their time to home schoolers. It is easy to do this because they do not respond to bells, like public school kids. We teach at odd hours, when we have the time and gratefully accept donations. We tell the parents how much we charge kids after 3 p.m. and let them decide how much they can afford.
Parents are welcome and encouraged to "sit-in" on lessons. Eventually, many parents and children become members of our community band, or other performance groups; piano recitals, singers, even musical theatre.

10-11-2012, 02:40 PM
Practice for lessons got better, by the way. I am probably inadvertently learning to play piano myself though. I can now play Old MacDonald on the black keys. :p And Mushroom is now ahead of his brother and doing really well and loving piano, it seems. I was like, "Hey, maybe piano will turn out to be one of your things!" To which he replied, "No." Ha.

I can handle the music appreciation. We should go do those Kennedy Center free performances more again...

Stella M
10-11-2012, 04:06 PM
Excellent! Kids crack me up - I'm good at this, and I enjoy this, but please don't call it my thing. Lol.

10-11-2012, 08:25 PM
I know, right? The teacher has now given him extra special work that he does for piano twice. And does happily! I was so sure he'd give me his little coy look and be like, "maybe..." I was having visions of Mushroom playing for years to come! And then he ruined it all in one word. Oh well. He now says he wants to be a writer. This is the third ambition he's had. First was jet pilot, next was chef, now it's writer.

06-19-2014, 02:54 PM
Sorry to resurrect an old post. How's practice going now?

In my life practicing issues are ever present so here's a new book I think you might like:
"Helping Parents Practice" by Edmund Sprunger helps parents max usefulness & min interference in child music practice Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making It Easier, Volume 1 by Edmund Sprunger ? Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists (http://bit.ly/1s752G2)

Enjoy and let me know how you like it? :)