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My son the drummer?

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 geoo
(@geoo)
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I feel like I should be writing this out in 12 bar blues.. but here goes.

My son is 7 years old. He is a "special needs" child in that they say that they think he has Asperger's (some form of autism) and then they say that he doesnt and then he does... etc so the long and short of it is that some things he is really slow at.

However, a year or two ago he really took to drums. He seems to almost have a natural rythem. His grandmother bought him a full size set and brought them over to my house (He spends more time here than at his moms) and he played them ALL the time. Loved em.

So me and mom got together and decided that maybe it would be nice to let him take some lessons. We scouted around and found a teacher that is well known for teaching drums to special needs kids. She has a ton of patience. He seems to like her and she seems to like him.

But every since he has started taking lessons it is like he doesnt ever want to practice, or even just play. The teacher tells me that when he is with her, he seems to know how to read the music and does it very well. But when I am with him, he wants me to read it to him, show him what to hit, count for him, etc. Tonight he acted like he didnt even know which drum was on which line of the music.

So, now I am in the position of trying to decide if I want to cancel his lessons and save the 60 bucks a month or let him continue on. He says he doesnt want to stop taking them and gets a little scared when I mention it but he doesnt want to practice or even play on his own like he used to.

If he was making progress I wouldnt care at all about saving the 60 bucks but he just seems to be sliding further and further back. When I talk to the instuctor she assures me that he is progressing nicely and that he can preform every thing that she puts before him.

signed
frustrated little drummers dad

lol Geoo

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


   
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 Taso
(@taso)
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Can it be that this teacher that teaches "special needs" children, is walking him threw it everytime, and she considers this to be progress? And now he doesn't want to do it on his own?

I have no idea, no experience in this area, sorry Geoo.

I have heard of kids not WANTING to play after getting lessons (guitar players anyways) because lessons if done incorrectly can take the fun out of an instrument. However, it doesn't seem that your son doesn't like the lessons, he is just claiming he doesn't know how to do the stuff...

Maybe sit in on a lesson, see how he does infront of the instructor? This would be best done if your son didn't know you were there, but that's probably impossible.

It just seems strange that she say's he is making progress, when you are saying he seems to be make "anti-progress" (just made that word up, not bad eh?)

Sorry I can't offer any good advice,

Taso

http://taso.dmusic.com/music/


   
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 Bish
(@bish)
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Well currently being a drummer, I fully agree with Taso.

You need to monitor the lessons, discreetly.

Don't let it be known that you are going to "hang around" if you can do it out of site of both student and teacher. Let them be interacting naturally.

I'm usually trusting but always have a suspicious ear/eye on stuff that doesn't make full sense. I don't want to say that this might be (I'll use a light term and hopefully NOT sound judgemental or rude) "easy money" for the instructor? I don't know that person so don't want this to sound criminal but you should investigate. Satisfy your curiosity that you are getting the bang for the buck you expect.

Bish

"I play live as playing dead is harder than it sounds!"


   
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(@musenfreund)
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My son is 11 and takes drum lessons. He's mildly affected by cerebral palsy, by the way. My daughter is 8 and takes piano. We have to remind them consistently to practice. My son always does so willingly, but he occasionally has trouble reading the music too. It's a perception issue that comes from the CP. But my daughter, who doesn't have any issues, occasionally resists the lessons and seems to forget basics we know she has down. And then she gets into her lesson and performs beautifully.
I mention all this because I think there's simply a wide range of performance and motivation for all kids in this age range. Sometimes they're tired and less focused. Sometimes they're distracted and would rather be outside than practicing, etc. If I had to guess, I'd say your son's teacher is probably right. He probably is doing all right and progressing. And he's probably more focused in lessons than he is at home practicing. Sometimes practice for all kids is more about a power struggle with Mom and Dad than about the music. Our daughter's practice works better when we limit her time at practice and give her discrete tasks for each session.
Yes, I'd monitor the lesson and also talk to the teacher about ways of structuring his practice sessions. (I wouldn't hesitate though to let my child know I was observing. We observe our daughter at piano all the time. She likes knowing we're interested in what she's doing.) And maybe he needs a bit of a vacation from frequent practice.
Just some thoughts. Let us know how it works out.
Tim

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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(@anonymous)
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maybe he gets something out of the lessons emotionally that he wants to recreate at home... or maybe it's just that the lessons are too easy for him and he doesn't want to work harder than he thinks is necessary.


   
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 Nils
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My son plays drums and very early on I took him as far as I could take him then took him for lessons. Prior to the lessons he wanted to practice all the time. After the lessons started his practice would fluctuate. Some weeks he would be practicing all the time. Some weeks he would not practice at all. I spoke with his teacher and he and I came to the conclusion that on the weeks that he learned something new he would enjoy it and practice. When it was something he already knew it was boring and he would avoid practice. He didn't realize that he could learn stuff on his own and continue to progress. I think the value add is for you to keep working with him and help work on new stiff between lessons.

And jam with him so he can use the new stuff and enjoy applying it in real life.

Nils' Page - Guitar Information and other Stuff
DMusic Samples


   
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 geoo
(@geoo)
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Topic starter  

Thanks for all the responses

I would love to either sit in.. or secretly listen in but this might be a bit difficult. I take my guitar lesson at the same time, in the same building. I'll give that some thought and see if I can find a way.

I do jam along with him some times. we couldnt much in the beginning cause the lil craphead would get mad at me when I was making mistakes. Must get his lack of patience from his mother. :D

Sometimes I think its good for him to keep taking them even if he struggles right now. 12 years from now he might thank me. But other times I think he would practice more if he didnt have formal lessons.

If all else fails his brother started playing trumpet. Might have to learn some jazz.. LOL

Geoo

edited to prove that I do know correct spelling and grammer, for the most part.

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


   
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 Bish
(@bish)
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Funny stuff, g! :lol:

Bish

"I play live as playing dead is harder than it sounds!"


   
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(@chris-c)
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Hi,

Interesting question. Sometimes it's hard for us to figure out the reasons, because we're using our logic and our experience to try and understand the situation. And sometimes those things don't apply to kids, particular to kids with disabilities.

It sounds like he just feels differently about them, but the real whys and wherefores of it all might be hard for him to explain, even to himself. He may just have transferred the whole drum playing thing to a different category in his mind. Now it's serious stuff at lesson time, and the freewheeling bang everything in sight days have gone. Making something "official " can change all our feelings about things we do.

And kids just lose interest at times too. The guy next door was full of enthusiasm for drums for months when he was a teenager. Got the full kit, went nuts on them for a while, and then moved on to something else....

My son has had several bursts of musical enthusiasm and they usual show up as a period of intense interest, followed by a slackening off, then nothing for a while, then renewed interest at a less intense level.

Matt is also handicapped, disabled or whatever the current terms is. However, that's is probably a pattern you see with many people of all ages and capabilities.

My solution is to learn enough myself in order to be his teacher. Then we can see how it goes and whether it's worth taking it up a step and get outside lessons or help. Is is practical for you to take over teaching him for a few weeks and see how it goes? Or make that suggestion and see what he says?

Good luck sorting it out. :)

Cheers, Chris


   
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(@kingpatzer)
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I have a special needs kid as one of my students. I find it immensly helpfull to have a parent at the lesson just so that me and the parent can be on the same page when it comes to what needs to be practiced, how it needs to be practiced, etc.

Really, that's something I insist on for all my students under 12, btw. But is really most helpfull for the special needs kid.

Of course, sometime's it's hard for mom and dad to let me run the lesson, so we cover that too -- they're there to observe and answer questions if I ask them of THEM not when I ask them of the student .. but that's another discussion (sorry, LONG lesson yesterday ...)

Most kids start taking lessons 'cause they love noodling around on an instrument, be it drums, guitar, whatever. Once they start taking lessons and realize that they have to practice instead of play, and that it is expected that they'll work, they forget how much fun it used to be, and start only seeing the work. What started as an escape becomes a chore. After a time, usually a few months to a year, they'll become proficient enough at the technical details that they start remembering how fun it was, and realize that it still is fun. For those first few months to a year, however, it is normal for ALL kids to have problems practicing.

There's no magic bullet to getting kids to practice, but in general positive rewards for practicing are better than negative consequences for not. We want playing to be fun and enjoyable, so we want to associate practice time with something good and enjoyable. Problematically for us teachers, kids today already have every dvd, video game, and "extra" in their life imaginable without having done anything to earn them that it gets really hard to find a reward for a week or month's worth of good practice that they'll see as "worth" the effort.

I have no real advice for you other than noting that what you're describing sounds to me to be entirely NORMAL for a kid in their first year of playing an instrument, and I while it is very frustrating, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Rather, I'd focus on what sort of positive rewards you can develop around practice that will help encourage him to stick with it, and I'd keep reminding yourself that taking what was a fun passtime and turning it into an expectation will have the temporary result you're seeing.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@chris-c)
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When I think about it, I'm pretty reluctant to practice stuff from my lessons too. :wink:

I enjoy the sessions with the teacher but I don't want the pressure of having to do "homework". I've now trained my teacher not to try and load me up with stuff, but just answer the questions I bring to the lesson.

I like to set my own pace. Maybe he does too? Try giving him permission to just "bash 'em" when he's at home and leave the study for the lessons. He might creep back to useful practice if he knows he doesn't have to.... :)


   
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 geoo
(@geoo)
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Topic starter  

Ya know.. There was one day a couple weeks ago that he was just beating the heck out of em like the old days and I went into the living room and said "Bang on them all you want but count while your doing it. 1.2.3.4" He argued a bit, asking if Ringo and various other drummers he admires actually counts when they play. But he started counting and there was such a huge difference in his playing that day.

AND.. he played (shhh practiced) for quite a long time.

Maybe I should do more of that and, as mentioned, I'll let the teacher know that for the most part he might not be practicing the lesson but atleast he is playing again. I bet she'd understand.

One thing I forget is that I even have to have talks with my guitar teacher from time to time, and I admire the heck out of him. But Brandon, my son, cant really talk to the teacher and discuss how to go forward like I can.

I have a makeup lesson tonight and my son wont be there. Think I'll chat with her.

Geoo

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


   
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(@musenfreund)
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That's exactly what my daughter resists -- counting. She just wants to play what she hears in her head. (We've all been there, haven't we?) My son, on the other hand, doesn't mind counting at all.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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