Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Barely a Whisper

My sister, Diane, turned and looked at me with an expression that silently said, "Is this guy nuts or what?" We were in a "Master Class" for Pre-Twinkles, kids that were going to begin piano lessons but have not yet played, and the teacher, Bruce Anderson, was whispering. The whole hour.
His whispering was intended to illustrate a very Suzuki idea - that modeling behavior and setting the correct environment was critical in getting the behaviors and learning outcomes we adults desire to achieve. For example, he said, you don't yell at your children to get them to be quiet. By the end of the class, not only were all adults whispering our responses, but the children had sat quietly for an hour.
Outside the room, Diane asked if he was planning to do that all week. Agitated, she remarked that she had adult ADD and didn't think she could take a whole week of whispering. I agreed it was a bit unusual, and aggravating. Surprisingly, by the end of the week, it didn't seem to bother either one of us as much. Still, it was difficult for two people who are multitaskers in motion to just want someone to tell them a lot of information quickly so that we can move on. Yet, on the last day, Bruce raised his voice slightly above a whisper to talk to observing teachers and parents. Little Allie, a four year old, tapped Bruce on the arm and whispered, "You're supposed to whisper!"
So we did it, my sister and I. We tolerated one hour a day of whispering, and saw clearly the illustration that setting the environment (quietly playing the Suzuki music, turning off background noise, taking softly) all resulted in behavioral changes in the children.
My purpose in bringing William to the Suzuki Piano Institute was to see if by being around other children playing piano, he would finally consent to even approaching the piano. He's been resistant in the past, I think due in part to the embarrassment of having attention focused on himself. By the end of the week, as you see in the photo, William not only played notes but asked to do it. For a more traditional approach, this may seem insignificant, but for us, it was big. He wanted to do it. We are hoping that by starting lessons this week in a group with two boys of similar age, he will continue to be motivated to play.

1 comment:

pita-woman said...

Hmm, I would think with L's ever present musical influence, he wouldn't have been so reluctant to want to try his hand at it.


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