Improved but still annoying

Today was M’s birthday party, so we practiced in the morning, at around 10.

I wanted a simple start, and I wanted to work on M’s tone, which was terrible yesterday, so I asked her to start by playing an A in second position on the 3rd string. Even this simple task created conflict: M was getting a buzzing tone, and I was trying to figure out whether it was her fault or her guitar’s. So after she played a few As and stopped, I said, “Keep playing.” Instead of playing more As, she started playing Gs and G#s with terrible form. I lost it a little bit, and berated her for playing garbage notes with garbage form. (Note: Unlike Amy Chua, I did not accuse my child of being garbage; just of playing garbage.) It’s a recurring behavior of hers that I keep trying and failing to stamp out.

Then she cooperated with me by playing As at various dynamic levels, and I was able to determine that in fact the buzzing was not her fault — the action on her guitar is low, and she’s using normal strings (which have low tension on such a small guitar), so the strings tend to buzz when she plays moderately loud.

We moved on to the Bach Tanz and focused on the C-D sections (the second half). Right up front, I asked her to sing the D section, which she had gotten wrong yesterday, and she again got it wrong (I had hoped she might get it right, because I replaced her bedtime CD with one that has the Bach Tanz first, ten times in a row).

I then played the correct notes for her, and we sang it a few times. That seemed to help. As for playing, we worked mostly on the C section, and she managed to play it beautifully several times. There’s only one problem note in the section (a D in the second measure, I think); I had her circle it on the music so we can work on it. This song is coming along nicely, and I told her so.

Next we practiced the open A scale (i.e., an A scale using open B and open C) to work our way into Meadow Minuet. She’s developed the habit of not playing open E and B in that song, and I thought it would help to get the scale under her fingers. As we played, we sang the note names, specifically singing “Open B” and “Open E” when we came to them. It took a while to get this right.

She then played the Meadow Minuet melody while I played the bass, then we traded. She still doesn’t have the bass line solidly in her head, so we need to work on this more.

Apart from the conflict at the start of our lesson, it was a pretty good day. But that conflict is what lingers with me.

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