Travis’s second try at piano

Letting Travis take a break from piano after his time with Miss Ann was definitely the right thing to do. It had become miserable for everyone, and clearly the group lessons and the focus on reading music weren’t a good fit for him. After a few months, T was messing around on the piano more often and expressing interest in trying lessons again.

About a month ago he started lessons with Miss Julie, who teaches private Suzuki lessons. She’s Evelyn and Stefan’s teacher and came highly recommended. Her focus is on training by ear first and then working on reading music. This seems a much better fit for the way Travis learns and what he’s interested in.

So far things seem to be going well. Travis can be restless and fidgety during his lessons, and each week we work with him on talking less and listening more. The biggest challenge for him is that the first book is all about technique and Travis really wants to be playing songs. Miss Julie and I keep reminding him that the more he focuses on this stuff now, the sooner he’ll get to what he wants to be working on.

Part of T’s practice is listening regularly to his Suzuki cd. From there he’ll have a headstart when it’s time to learn those pieces. But Miss Julie really doesn’t want him playing pieces until she’s taught him to do so properly. She says when that happens she often has to unteach the incorrect approach before teaching the correct one. This has been hard for Travis, who especially loves sounding things out. I think we may have reached a middle ground now, though. He’s been plucking out several Christmas carols and other songs he already knows instead of messing around with the Suzuki pieces. That seems to be meeting his needs and keeping him from moving ahead before he’s supposed to.

Practice is definitely more pleasant that it was at the end of Miss Ann’s classes, but it still has it’s bumps. On several occasions, I’ll suggest a correction and Travis will launch into a lecture about how I’m being mean and bossing him and don’t love him and why isn’t anyone ever on his side. I think we’re beginning to work through some of this, and a lot of it is probably not directly related to piano. Travis loves music, and he’s constantly listing new instruments he wants to learn to play. Sometimes I wish there was a way to jump him over the tedious stuff to put him doing the stuff he thinks he should be able to do. Then again, he’s learning an important lesson in putting in the work first to get the reward. I just hope he (and I) can manage to stick with it to get him to that point!

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