Pitching pennies before dinner

We had a pretty good practice, but I continue to be baffled at how little we get done in an hour. And M was generally cooperative! We did:

  • Sight reading in Read This First. We played two songs, three times through (first saying beats; second saying notes; third saying fruit rhythms). I suppose this took longer than it seemed.
  • The double-note Perpetual Motion variation, with a stuffed rabbit to help M keep her wrist up.
  • The Fuhrman Tanz. Per M’s studio teacher, I asked her to focus on playing “musically” (we first went over a list of “musical” items she could add to her playing — crescendo, ritardando, vibrato, etc.). She got some things in, and she got the structure right. There’s still room to improve. What I noticed and discussed was how she could play more legato by not bringing her pinky down on the high A too early.
    • As an exercise after the Tanz, I asked M to play A-F# repeatedly 10 times and watch her timing to keep it legato. She did perfectly!
  • As our inter-song activity, M pitched pennies in a glass. This was a pretty good choice (low distraction, not too time consuming), except when she started to get upset when she was missing. This will probably work better if she has a higher success rate.

The one bummer for me today was how M responded (during a play date) to a friend’s dad’s questions about playing the guitar. First, when he asked if she played an instrument, she said, “I’m a rock star!” So far so good. But then he asked, “What do you like about playing the guitar? Do you have a favorite song?” She answered “nothing” and “no.”

Normally this doesn’t bother me much (though obviously I wish she answered differently), particularly since she has bought into the guitar in other ways (as shown by the “rock star” remark). But the mother of M’s friend had earlier been telling me about her daughter’s ice skating and gymnastics and had remarked with pleasure that her daughter really seemed to enjoy both activities. The contrast with M’s attitude about the guitar struck me.

On the positive side, while M and I were making a Keva-plank structure, she liked something I did and said:

You rockstarred it!

Here’s the bunny we used during our lesson (M kept it under her wrist while she played Perpetual Motion):

sparkly bunny

The power of the stopwatch

I have been a terrible blogger. I haven’t been posting daily, so naturally I can’t provide great specifics about the previous few days.

At a general level, the most notable event this week was the arrival of the stopwatch. Based on the notion that we change the things we measure, I decided to use a stopwatch to keep track of time M wastes during our lessons by dawdling. It drives me nuts, and I’ve tried to explain that if she wants more time to herself after our lessons, she can waste less time during them. But this hasn’t worked, so I thought to myself, “I need to show her exactly how much time she is wasting to make it real for her. I need a stopwatch.”  I got this simple one:

She responded well all week — whenever she took too long to do something (e.g., pick up her guitar, get into ready position), I’d reach for the stopwatch, and she’d almost always immediately do what I’d asked. The most wasted time I clocked in any lesson was about 1:30.  We’ll see how long it lasts.

Technically, this week our focus was big tone and a steady right hand. Some of last week’s work has sunk in, and she regularly gets a nice, loud sound. Now she needs to work on keeping an elevated wrist. I did a lot of silent correction on this toward the end of the week — and it turned out to be the main thing her studio teacher pointed out at her private lesson on Saturday. Nice to know I was on the right track.

I can’t quite decipher my notes for Wednesday the 23rd through Friday the 25th, but it looks like we did:

  • Some note reading to start every practice (most days, both fruit rhythms and the see-say note page; Friday, just the note page).
  • Scales, iuncluding a ping-pong D scale on Thursday.
  • The G scale on one string.
  • Song of the Wind with the metronome.
  • The Fuhrman Tanz, with an emphasis on playing legato.