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Teaching Children the Ocarina

carl_hamlin
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Joined: June 3rd, 2008, 6:52 pm

August 1st, 2008, 4:38 pm #1

My 7 year old daughter has been listening to me play the ocarina for some time and recently asked me to provide her with a starter ocarina and teach her to play.

At first, she seemed like she was picking it up really quickly, but now that we're getting into sweeping and elaboration, she's having a *lot* of trouble and seems like she might be starting to realize the ocarina may be more trouble than she wanted to bite off.

I've been patient and tried to work with her through a lot of the problems I had when I was first learning to play, and she *is* learning, but as her progress slows down, her attitude towards the material seems to be developing a negative slant, and she's practicing less. When she *does* practice, she's tending to go back to songs like 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and avoiding the ones that will in fact improve her technique.

I've asked her a couple of times now if she's just deciding that maybe the ocarina isn't for her, but she says she still wants to play, and comes and asks for practice sessions, but I suppose the meat of the issue is that during the practice sessions she's more and more distracted and tends to ask to stop early, especially if we're working on something at level.

Have any of you had experience teaching children to play? Do you know of ways to hold their attention on the topic when their progress starts to slow down and level off? I've been thinking that for the time being I'll just stop with the practice sessions entirely and let her just have fun with it, but I don't want to send her the impression that I've given up on helping her learn, either.
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Deleted User
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August 1st, 2008, 5:55 pm #2

You have to let her LOVE what she has already learned. Don't push too hard or you will take the fun out of it. Maybe the lessons should be farther apart and more time put into creating them. To push the creativity and skill, try some duet work on songs she already knows.

The sure way to kill interest is to be too overwhelming or too boring. It's a fine line.
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carl_hamlin
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Joined: June 3rd, 2008, 6:52 pm

August 1st, 2008, 6:12 pm #3

Moonsyne wrote:Maybe the lessons should be farther apart and more time put into creating them. To push the creativity and skill, try some duet work on songs she already knows.
Thank you, Moonsyne. I'll try spacing the lesson time out a little more, definitely.

The duet idea is an interesting one - one of the things she *really* wants is to play her ocarina alongside me at the market instead of sitting and listening. We've played some harmonic music together (mostly LoZ thematics, which she adores), but she's having trouble sticking to her part and not jumping over to mine. When she plays her part alone, she doesn't have this problem at all, but when we're playing together, she listens to me instead of concentrating on her own part of the music and gets confused, unfortunately.

Do you have a suggestion as to how that problem can be addressed?
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Deleted User
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August 1st, 2008, 9:56 pm #4

Practice playing the same tune ... in rounds. Most kids already have experience singing in rounds, and it will focus concentration.

Also songs like the Bear song involve sharing lines.

ie:
A plays
B repeats
AB plays together
It will also look really cute when street performing ;)

Many campfire songs follow such formulas if you are short on song ideas.


Last edited by Deleted User on August 1st, 2008, 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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kissing
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Joined: February 3rd, 2008, 12:55 pm

August 2nd, 2008, 3:09 am #5

Wow that's lovely that you're teaching your daughter!
I wonder if I'll be in a similar position in the future (which seems ages away to me) :rofl:

I think you're doing a great job. I'm not sure whether there really is an easy way to teach children instruments - there are so many methods.

I think if she enjoys herself now, later on when she is older and able to make decisions for herself, she'll still end up pursuing an instrument (maybe ocarina) in a more serious way by her own choice :D
It's much better off than kids who are forced to play a musical instrument by their parents, and they end up hating musical instruments for the rest of their lives :dead:

Perhaps letting her choose what songs to play might be beneficial?
Whatever the case, I reckon the basics of music you are teaching her now are definitely a great benefit for her future!


*off-topic*

That is what happened to me. My mother was actually a piano teacher a long time ago when I was around 7. But she never forced me to learn piano. I enjoyed it up to a point.. but reached a level that I felt it was too difficult for me to move on and I was getting bored playing the same songs over and over. But I did enjoy music - the piano was simply not an instrument suited to me (I couldn't get my head around my right hand doing one thing, and my left hand doing something completely different, and chords confused me)

Later on I learned that I was actually born to play wind instruments, and wind instruments are the ones I enjoy most :D
I still don't play the piano :rofl: but I ended up pursuing musical instruments for my own enjoyment later on when I had the maturity to learn an instrument by my own will.

Now I'm just totally saturated with the passion for ocarinas <3

(but I had to go through many other instruments before reaching ocarinas :rofl:
-Piano: my brain could not handle it. It didn't feel natural for me to play.
-Guitar: same reason as above.
-Trumpet: I loved my trumpet for a few years.. and then I got braces, making it difficult. I think the trumpet is too physically demanding to play, and I end up exhausted after each play session. Also it is very loud.
-Flute: I could not get used to playing notes by blowing across the top xD
-Reeded instruments (clarinet, saxophone, etc): I didn't like the idea of replacing reeds so often, and the sound did not appeal to me.
-Recorder: I loved my recorder, but was not satisfied with the sound and limitations. Too difficult to play more complicated music on, and no one looks at you seriously for playing a recorder.
-Harmonica: I didn't find it very practical for the kind of songs I liked.
-Drums: I still do play the drums for my church, but it's not an instrument that I thoroughly enjoy. There is no melody to it.

etc etc.

Along came the ocarina, and it was the PERFECT instrument!
A compact and low-maintenance instrument that I can carry with me anywhere. The sound is so beautiful and pure, and it is very practical. It can play a wide range of notes, and can fit into most music genre. And there are so many different makers, types, designs, etc giving it an infinite number of possibilities and variety! It is relatively unique, and has the potential to be played professionally. This is the instrument I have been looking for in all these years, and I will cherish for life and keep on playing!

(so yeah, I think the point I was trying to make, before going totally off-topic, is that finding the right instrument for a kid is a very complicated and personal journey :rofl: )
Last edited by kissing on August 2nd, 2008, 3:42 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Elfgrin
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August 2nd, 2008, 5:27 am #6

7 is incredibly young, keep that in mind. And there's nothing wrong with practicing easy songs. The more you play them, the easier they get, even if you've mastered it. Those songs will inevitably become boring, and she will undoubtedly want to move on to harder stuff at her own pace.
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ForestsRequiem
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August 2nd, 2008, 12:14 pm #7

@carl, when you play duets are you playing the melody? If you are you could give your daughter incentive to play her part by giving her melody for part of the song if she plays her part.

Also for the problem of no new songs being played, I can reccomend finding more songs in our sheet music section that you think she may enjoy! I know that when I don't have many new songs to play, I tend to practice less!

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shadowyi
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August 6th, 2008, 1:52 am #8

I too echo kissing's ( <3 ) sentiment that it's lovely that you're teaching your daughter. It's great to get started early with music! Like others have said, make sure not to pressure your daughter to practice. My mother often did in the early days of me learning flute, and that quickly led me to develop a dislike for the flute. The suggestion of playing in rounds in excellent, and maybe grab some of the harder songs she loves. Something like the Shire's theme in Lord of the Rings? That's challenging even for me to play.

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DeepRed
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August 6th, 2008, 7:55 am #9

The same thing happened with me and learning clarinet....I wanted to learn it for fun and because I loved the instrument. I told my teacher I wanted to choose my own songs, not work from standard gradebooks and that I didn't want to take any musical grades exams. He ignored this. He made me practice the same song for 6 months for a grade exam. We argued and argued about it, and eventually grew to hate each other. I never hated playing the clarinet, but I resented practice because it for him, not me. All he ever did was complain at me, and eventually I quit.

But I had a totally opposite experience with my Drums teacher! :) Instead of 'tried and tested' methods, he let us play what WE wanted to play, and once he had figured out what we liked, was able to make suggestions for new songs to practice to that would be slightly more advanced. Every lesson was filled with laughter and chat! :)
His enthusiasm rubbed off on us, and he showered heaps of praise on his pupils, made them feel special and appreciated. In turn, we all strived to practice, play more, and do better!

That's the number one piece of advice I can offer- PRAISE. Lots! Children yearn for it, and constantly need to be told they have done well, and feel appreciated! Even if a lesson is going badly or you're feeling a little frustrated, NEVER let it show to your daughter but keep smiling throughout!
Make each practice session a game! :)
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kissing
Site Admin
Joined: February 3rd, 2008, 12:55 pm

August 6th, 2008, 7:58 am #10

I agree with DeepRed and shadowyi on the part about the "grades".

Sure, it is a useful system to give people the qualifications to teach, and it might really work well for some people. But in the context of self-enjoyment for music, I would really hate to see the ocarina become a graded instrument.....
Last edited by kissing on August 6th, 2008, 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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