Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Teaching Different Age Groups

  1. #1
    Musician Author Educator Jeff Brent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    1,242

    Teaching Different Age Groups

    The youngest I will take is four years old. They must be able to both recognize and reproduce all their letters and numbers.


    As a trained teacher, I am quite aware of the differences between teaching:

    1. 4-8 year olds

    2. 8-12 year olds

    3. 12-15 year olds

    4. 16-18 year olds

    5. 18-60 year olds

    6. 60+

    (the subdivisions above are purely subjective)


    These differences include (but are not limited to):

    1. Ability to focus and concentrate (attention span)

    2. Physical abilities (muscle control)

    3. Retention abilities (brain memory and muscle memory)

    4. Interests (styles of music)

    5. Average length of time to master concepts (how fast they learn)

    6. Motivational techniques (maintaining interest)

    7. Fun versus Hard Work (maybe related to point 6 above)

    And there are probably a few more that don't come immediately to mind right now.


    So, I envision this thread to be more about HOW to teach rather than WHAT to teach.

    Naturally, I have a lot of my own opinions to relay based on my experience, but for now I just want to start the ball rolling ...

  2. #2
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,036
    I haven't had my coffee yet, but here's an observation, at least with guitar:

    When boys hit puberty I think they become a lot more interested in their own identity and expressing themselves (or just being a cool guitar player,) and they'll get a lot more motivated to play on their own.

    For most kids, before the 12/13 mark, the guitar may just be another activity that they do, and it holds no real special meaning.

    Once they reach that age I also think they become able to listen to something and really "feel it" on a deeper level.

    Since I started playing guitar when I was twelve, I wasn't aware of this huge difference. And my first few years of teaching kids under ten or so were pretty bad. I pushed them too hard, I expected too much interest, I got dissapointed and frustrated too easily.

    Now I realize with kids that young I have to do a lot of work to keep things bright and fun, but I also have the liberty of being more structured with how I want them to practice.

    I don't feel right telling a parent of a fourteen or fifteen year old kid that he/she has to get their kid to practice. At that age, the kids either gonna be into guitar or not. For a nine year old, I think it's much more useful to get the parents involved.

    My observations of different age groups were pretty clearly echoed in a little book I just read called "Making Money Teaching Music." A good and easy read: http://www.amazon.com/Making-Money-T.../dp/0898796571

    the gist (this is all regarding the average beginner for the first year or two)-

    5-8, lots of structure, games, keep parents involved

    8-11, structure, ez rewarding songs that are fun, have parents keep an eye on what's going on

    12-15, treat the more as adults, be a "cool" older person if you can, be relatable, focus on their goals and who they are and what they want to do with music. There's often very little point (or success) in pushing them to do something they really don't want to do. They either want to be better musicians or they don't.

    15-20, with guitar, at this age I'm basically just helping them with whatever they're working on, and their lives often get in the way of them being consistent with the instrument.

    20-60, regarding beginning students, good f**cking luck, haha! Unless if they're really serious (which they very rarely are) I've just come to decide to give them whatever has the most short term gratification. It's been noted before that for an adult, playing an instrument can be an escape from work, so it's realistic to expect them to just play for fun and not ever really practice or anything.

    I've had several situations where this wasn't the case, even three adult students right now who are pretty hard workers, but historically this observatioin has been true, especially if they get my name from a flyer or card. maybe I've just gotten better at working with adults ::

  3. #3
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,036
    Quote Originally Posted by dogbite View Post
    acci,

    well said. and as i'm sure you know, there are nine year olds who are extraordinarily mature and are capable of uncanny discipline, and may need to be treated like those in older age groups; and of course, sometimes the reverse is also true.

    much of my scheduling, attendance, and tuition policies are based on that book you cited, "making money..."
    Sweet bro, congruency five!

  4. #4
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,193
    Quote Originally Posted by Acci View Post

    Now I realize with kids that young I have to do a lot of work to keep things bright and fun, but I also have the liberty of being more structured with how I want them to practice.
    Yes I think you are right about that! As another kind of teacher of children in the age of 4 -12 I can tell you, you have the general idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by Acci View Post

    20-60, regarding beginning students, good f**cking luck, haha! Unless if they're really serious (which they very rarely are) I've just come to decide to give them whatever has the most short term gratification.
    I guess I am one of those. Can I ask what you mean with your last sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbite View Post
    acci,

    well said. and as i'm sure you know, there are nine year olds who are extraordinarily mature and are capable of uncanny discipline, and may need to be treated like those in older age groups; and of course, sometimes the reverse is also true.
    Everyone, even a kid , is an individual, so there are always exceptions to the rules. When you already have had a brother or sister of a child in your class, don't make the mistake thinking he or she shall be the same in learning. Don't compare them. I know they always did compare me to my brother.
    As for kids being more 'mature' than their own age, that isn't always a good thing: i once had a class of 9 and 10 year olds which were very much in their puberty already with lots of interest in the opposite sex and they gave me a lot of 'trouble', lol!

  5. #5
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,036
    Quote Originally Posted by page View Post

    I guess I am one of those. Can I ask what you mean with your last sentence?

    Well, if you're reading this site you're probably not in the category I was referring to.

    Most adults won't be consistent in their "studies" unless they are very serious and/or disciplined and/or motivated. They want to play and they don't really know what they're in for at the start. They unaware of the fact that if they want any progress it's going to take away from their lives and they'll have to make time for it.

    So I just focus on the process. By "short term gratification" I mean that I would not give them assignments with the attitude "here is something pretty boring, but work on it for four months and the rewards will be phenomenel." (and I might do that with a kid/person who seemed very hard working, motivated, and/or disciplined.)

    If they can already play some chords I focus on giving them songs and getting them to play those songs in a way that will sound good when they want to play them for themselves or a friend. Short term rewards. Very little, if any, hard work or discipline required.

    It's often been true that my adult students are not regular weekly students, so I don't bother getting too regimented. I give them songs, make sure they can play them well, and when they want more than that we get deeper into things.

    Of course, if they're absolute beginners things are different, but most of my adult students already played a bit when they came to me.

    One of the worst situations I had was teaching an adult that had actually taken lessons for years but never got too invested in it, nor did she have time to practice at the time that we were doing lessons. A couple of points:

    -She constantly drastically changed her goals and the style of music she wanted to play so that we never really accomplished anything and she could never feel good about her guitar playing or the lessons

    -She focused on the fact that she had been playing for a long time but still was not very proficient. Instead of just working to get better, she would get intensely frustrated at her current level and take up lesson time discussing this. I'm not good at going "rah rah rah you can do it" but I gave it my best.

    -She hardly ever practiced, which reinforced #2 above. It wasn't even her fault - she had a job, kids, a house, I don't blame her if she didn't want to take the time to shed. I just think she, and other adults, should be realistic about what kind of return they can expect on their investment.

    But if you're hanging out on a music site online, you're probably more invested than any of these adults I'm discussing here.

  6. #6
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,193
    Hi Acci, I understand.
    You are right, I'm not like that at all. I'm in fact maybe too serious and have to loosen up a little in my studying. But it probably will never change because I have been like that since I was a little girl. I took musiclessons from age 8 up and chose piano at 10 as an instrument because my parents expected me to as we got the instrument from my grandparents. However as a teenager I did quit my lessons at age of 15. I was having a difficult time then and my mind was not at studying.
    When I had become a teacher many many years later, I got 5 of us teachers at our school going to a guitarclass especially for primaryschool teachers. After half a year, we were with three and after 1 year I was the only one left from our school. I stayed for 3 years at the course, only stopped because our coach didn't have the opportunity to teach us anymore.
    I have sung always, but only have had lessons for 4 years now. I started kind of late in life, I did sang at some choirs but was too shy to go solo at first. My first vocalcoach told me it was such a shame I hadn’t start 10 years before that because I have this talent. So that did put a strain on me, I may ask some advice about that some time. I feel that I have to get better quickly, but that's not that easy. I now have another coach who knows much more about jazz because she is a professional jazzsinger herself.
    I indeed hang out here because I want to know more so I can improve my singing and understanding more about musictheory and stuff.

  7. #7
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,193
    Quote Originally Posted by dogbite View Post
    in regards to what acci said about teaching adults:

    many make the mistake that being college educated or otherwise worldly in other things will make learning a musical instrument easy, ...
    I have noticed that people who have a degree on a subject often seem to think they can teach the subject too. This is off-topic in this thread, but this fact really bothers me. People seem to think teaching itself, the didactics, isn't something you have to have special skills for, as it weren't a profession itself.

  8. #8
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,036
    Quote Originally Posted by page View Post
    I have noticed that people who have a degree on a subject often seem to think they can teach the subject too. This is off-topic in this thread, but this fact really bothers me. People seem to think teaching itself, the didactics, isn't something you have to have special skills for, as it weren't a profession itself.
    Heh, even more off topic:

    When I was twenty or so I was hanging out with my girlfriend at the time and one of her friends.

    Her friend said to me, "so what do you do, are you working, in school?"

    My girlfriend said "He's a bum"

    I said "I give guitar lessons"

    And she said "Like I said, he's a bum."

    We didn't stay together much longer after that

  9. #9
    Musician Author Educator Jeff Brent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    1,242

    "Kiddies" 4-8

    Several things that the teacher should know about this age group:

    1. You are not really teaching them music, you are FAMILIARIZING them with music. Children this age have very little experience with music, except for what they might incidentally hear on TV or the car radio.


    2. They have to have a book. This gives a point of focus and structure. (It also gives the parents something to refer to when nagging at them to practice).


    3. They will (generally) do what you tell them to in class just because you're an authority figure, but they'll only do it because you said so and not because they want to.

    When you find them reticent to undertake a chore, the secret motivational trick is to give them a choice between two options (eg. "Would you like to do the left hand or the right hand first?", "Would you like to do it with me counting or with the metronome?", etc).

    This gives them feeling that they have a say in the matter and that their opinion counts. Neither of which is true, but they're too young to figure that out yet.

    Avoid at all costs being overbearing and insistent at repeating the same boring task (unless you like watching little kids cry).


    4. They have very short attention spans (usually less than 10 minutes), consequently you have to take short breaks here and there during the lesson. These short breaks allow the student's subconscious mind to process the information that is currently being taught.

    By taking the conscious mind's focus away from the task at hand, it gives the subconscious a chance to mull it over.

    Taking a break every 10 minutes or so actually increases the efficiency of learning (even though some parents seem to think that the kids ought to have the nose to grindstone every second).

    Sometimes I find myself obliged to inform the parents of exactly how the young mind works best in a learning situation in order to get the parents to back off from being slave-drivers.


    5. Kids that age haven't heard all the dumb jokes you know from grade school, so you can use 'em to lighten up the lessons and get them laughing.

    As Marilyn Monroe said "If you can get a girl to laugh, you can get her to do anything". Similarly, if you can get a little kid to laugh (which isn't hard to do) they'll look forward to coming to the lessons and be much more receptive to your teaching methods.


    6. They are actually more work than older students because if you're not after them every second to do something, they won't do anything at all. Kiddies are extremely high maintenance. You sure earn your money working with them.


    7. For kids at this age, time moves very slowly, a half-hour to them is an eternity. Often a kid will reach a saturation point at 20 minutes into the lesson. Telling them that there's only ten minutes to go is the same as telling them that the lesson will NEVER end.

    When you see that blank stare of non-comprehension or the teary eyes of frustration or the fidgetiness of information overload - TAKE A BREAK for a minute or two (remember two minutes to them is also a small eternity).

    When they appear refreshed, hit 'em with "OK, let's take another quick look at that thing we were doing". It works every time (or almost).


    8. They also learn more slowly. They learn at about half the pace of the "tweens" (8-12) and at a quarter of the pace of early teens, and about an eighth of the pace of older teenagers and young adults.

    With most age groups I try to move the student the furthest and fastest possible. The beauty of one-on-one lessons is that everyone moves at their own pace (even if sometimes that's slower than molasses in January).

    However, with kiddies of this age, one has to be very careful to effect a balance between giving them enough reinforcement that the material "sticks", but not expecting so much perfection out of them so that you end up staying on the same page for three months.

    They have to be able to see progress, otherwise they can get extremely frustrated believing that they'll NEVER get it.

    So "good enough" is often all that's needed so we can check the page off and move forward.


    9. If they start crying, hand them a tissue and wait silently for the tears to run their course. If they want to talk about it let them, but do not pump them with questions like the Spanish Inquisition. As uncomfortable as you might be in this situation, silence and patience is your best friend.

    And for god's sake, NEVER hug them (unless, of course, you'd prefer to spend the rest of your life in jail).


    10. If they throw a tantrum or refuse to work, call the parents in. If the parents are not around during the lesson, then just wait it out.

    Show no reaction to a tantrum. If you do, you will be playing right into their manipulative little game.

    Also if they refuse to work and you can't call the parent in, do absolutely nothing. But ACTIVELY do nothing.

    There is only one thing that kids this age hate more than working and that's BEING BORED.

    If you actively do nothing, in a very short time the kid will become bored. As soon as they say "I'm bored" (or indicate it), give them "the choice of two things they can do" (see point #3 above).


    11. Praise works wonders. Nothing is sweeter to a child's ears than the words "I'm Proud of You".

    Tell them what a good job they did when they played the whole line almost perfectly.

    Tell them how great it is that we could sign off that whole page.

    As the lesson finishes, tell them in front of their parents how good they did in class.

    Without that praise, they'll think they're doing crummy or that you don't like them.

    Whether or not they become musicians, we want them to become good people and the teachers in a person's life very often have a great influence on what kind of person the child grows up to be.


    12. Realize that you are a role model. Even if you spent your twenties carousing with wild and sleazy lowlifes (like I did), mind your mouth and mind your manners.

    For most people that goes without saying, but there are a slew of guys who used to be bad-ass rebel rockers that are now giving music lessons who carry that snarly attitude with them into the classroom (much to the chagrin of the parents who hope that their kids will grow up to be responsible and contributing citizens of the world rather than black leather party animal drunks and stoners).


    As always, there is certain to be a number of issues that I neglected to talk about with regards to this age group, but since 13 is supposed to be an unlucky number, I'll stop at 12.

  10. #10
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,193
    Hi Jeff,
    I realize that not all is the same for a music teacher and a primary schoolteacher, however I would like to add a few comments on your post:

    - Nr. 3: ‘Avoid at all costs being overbearing and insistent at repeating the same boring task’
    Actually repeating helps them a lot and they like to repeat things like verses, rhymes and songs over and over and over again. I used a lot of rhymes in my class to teach the children to remember letters and words in order to learn them to read. But that’s probably not what you mend with a boring task

    - Nr. 4: ‘short attention spans (usually less than 10 minutes)’
    I think you are underestimating them, they can do more than that usually and there is a BIG difference between 4 and 8 year olds. Breaks are important but you can put some kind of game or something in they can learn from. Just use different methods, vary the exercises.

    - Nr. 6: ’more work than older students because if you're not after them every second to do something, they won't do anything at all.’
    I think that’s a too negative thought, it really depends on the child. Of course you have to help them more than older children. In my country the G.I.P model is often used. GIP stands for ‘Groups and Individually directed Pedagogical and didactically act from the teacher.’ This means the children learn to work independently. They learn to help each other, so the teacher can focus on a child who needs more attention than the others and help that one first. Of course this is from an ordinary teacher’s point of view and not on a one-on-one situation. But nevertheless I think it’s a too negative thought.

    - Nr. 7: ‘Often a kid will reach a saturation point at 20 minutes into the lesson.’
    This is true but it I think also you may have experienced this because you’ll get them at your lesson after a full school day and then they are really tired. It’s one of the reasons I think as a parent you should realize that your child needs his or her rest too and can’t be a member of too many after-school activities like clubs or sports. 2 at the most I should think.

    - Nr. 8: ‘They have to be able to see progress; otherwise they can get extremely frustrated believing that they'll NEVER get it.’ This is really true, can be dangerous even. I once had a girl in my class who was so frustrated lacking confidence she wanted to die. My heart still hurts thinking about that. We got her professional help.

    - Nr. 9: ‘And for god's sake, NEVER hug them’
    Well 4 till 8 year olds all did crawl on my lap by themselves, lol! Has to do with the fact I’m woman and I was their ‘Missy’. They like to sit close to you. While reading to them they did put their thumb in their mouth and their other hand on my knee, lol! Ofcourse you are right. I think you cŠn comfort them, but be careful with physical contact.

    - Nr. 10: ‘Show no reaction to a tantrum. If you do, you will be playing right into their manipulative little game.’
    Oh yes!

    - Nr. 11: ‘Praise works wonders. Nothing is sweeter to a child's ears than the words "I'm Proud of You".’
    I think it is a good thing when a child is being praised for the little things that are going well, it helps, motivates indeed. Don’t overdo it though; they’ll know it when you fake!

    My best, page

  11. #11
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,036
    I struggle with the praise issue. I think it's good to be supportive - tell someone they did well when they did well. If they did badly but you believe they are capable of doing it very well then tell them so.

    If someone does badly I might just have them do it again, I don't make a point of grinding them about it unless if we've been having a lot of coorperation issues.

    But if someone does "fine" I won't say "Great job!!!"

    I know full well that telling a small child they did well will make them feel good (only if they agree with you) and probably motivate them. That's great, but it's only looking at the short term consequences.

    Long term, I think too much praise can be part of what I see as a problem in our society - too many people who believe they are the center of the universe, and especially too many musicians who believe that what they are creating is better than what everybody else is creating.

    Just playing the damn instrument should be fun enough. If somebody needs false praise to continue playing then they probably shouldn't be playing in the first place, even if they are five!

    Keep in mind I'm just talking about overly-positive feedback in the attempt to make someone feel good. By all means, if someone does well, tell them so, and if they do very well, then tell them so. But "good" is "good", and "okay" is "okay" and bad is "we should spend another week on that."

  12. #12
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    1,036
    I don't mean to be painting myself as a hard ass - I've been working with little kids for a while and I've come to some understanding of what to expect from them. When they meet those expectations (the average) I say "good," when they exceed them I tell them so, and when they do below that then I'll help them with it and maybe suggest to spend more time on that page/exercise/song/whatever.

  13. #13
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,193
    Hi Acci,
    you don't have to praise all of the time, just don't forget about it. Some children need it more than others. You have to 'feel' what's the right approach.

  14. #14
    Musician Author Educator Jeff Brent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    Posts
    1,242
    Some great comments Page!

    Quote Originally Posted by page View Post
    - Nr. 3: ‘Avoid at all costs being overbearing and insistent at repeating the same boring task’
    Actually repeating helps them a lot and they like to repeat things like verses, rhymes and songs over and over and over again. I used a lot of rhymes in my class to teach the children to remember letters and words in order to learn them to read. But that’s probably not what you meant by a boring task
    Repetition is good for reinforcement once the task has been relatively mastered. What I'm getting at is bullying them over something that would better serve their education and emotional well-being by taking a break from for a while.

    Quote Originally Posted by page View Post
    - Nr. 4: ‘short attention spans (usually less than 10 minutes)’
    I think you are underestimating them, they can do more than that usually and there is a BIG difference between 4 and 8 year olds. Breaks are important but you can put some kind of game or something in they can learn from. Just use different methods, vary the exercises.
    The attention span issue varies from person to person, but it is necessary to be able to spot the telltale signs of loss of focus and deal with it with a break or a change of activity rather than bearing down on them harder.

    Quote Originally Posted by page View Post
    - Nr. 6: ’more work than older students because if you're not after them every second to do something, they won't do anything at all.’
    I think that’s a too negative thought, it really depends on the child. Of course you have to help them more than older children. In my country the G.I.P model is often used. GIP stands for ‘Groups and Individually directed Pedagogical and didactically act from the teacher.’ This means the children learn to work independently. They learn to help each other, so the teacher can focus on a child who needs more attention than the others and help that one first. Of course this is from an ordinary teacher’s point of view and not on a one-on-one situation. But nevertheless I think it’s a too negative thought.
    I see your point, but the little ones are usually very high maintenance. I'm talking about one-on-one lessons here rather than a group situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by page View Post
    - Nr. 7: ‘Often a kid will reach a saturation point at 20 minutes into the lesson.’
    This is true but it I think also you may have experienced this because you’ll get them at your lesson after a full school day and then they are really tired. It’s one of the reasons I think as a parent you should realize that your child needs his or her rest too and can’t be a member of too many after-school activities like clubs or sports. 2 at the most I should think.
    Even with the home-schooled kids that come in the mornings I find this. It's just flat-out information overload most of the time.

  15. #15
    balladeer page's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    the windmill area
    Posts
    5,193
    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for clarifying your point of view. I understand. You and I have at some point different experiences, some of them due to being different kinds of teachers being in different situations. Itís nice to read your point of view and exchange knowledge, so thanks for that.
    In fact thanks to all of you teachers here for that matter. Itís a joy to read your experiences!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  




Support the All About Jazz website and forum. Make a donation today!



Download the Jazz Near You iOS app

Download the Jazz Near You iOS app - Free!

Never miss another jazz concert again! Jazz Near You is a simple yet powerful way for fans to discover who is playing where and when. Access local jazz events by date, by distance, by venue, by musician or by festival; map to venues, set reminders, and get detailed information about musicians. Jazz Near You is your complete guide to jazz music near you! Download it now.



Visit All About Jazz at Twitter   Twitter Visit All About Jazz at Facebook   Facebook Use the All About Jazz content widgets on your website or blog   Widgets Subscribe to the All About Jazz RSS feeds   Feeds


All About Jazz | Jazz Near You | Jazz Musician Directory | Jazz News | Jazz Photo Gallery