Archive for November 12th, 2008


Although you may not be old enough to remember the dancing raisin commercial, you are probably wise enough to know the benefits of raisins. These little gems are “nature’s candy”; an antioxidant, they help to keep the blood clean and flowing, help ward off osteoporosis, and help with eye sight and oral hygiene. They are obviously a must in one’s diet. In our family, they were a must at the piano too.

In raising our first child, I was a purist in far too many ways. I would glare at the person in the grocery store who bought paper diapers or canned baby food. I would only buy educational toys. I refused to use a baby swing because my daughter might have dosed off and lost precious learning time. AND…. I had my daughter believing that raisins were candy. Needless to say, I was far more relaxed with my second child. But, that’s how raisins found their way to our piano.

I was looking for a repetition reward system. Raisins being my daughter’s favorite food, I decided to see if a bit of a bribe would work. I placed five raisins on the side of the piano and told her that she could eat one after each repetition. No problem! Lots of fun! Until…. she tired of that. On another day, five raisins again. But this time she had to transfer the raisins to the other side and then eat them all at the same time after all repetitions were complete. Then…… instead of her removing her hands to move a raisin, after each repetition I would pop one in her mouth. Of course each repetition got faster and faster, which made the game funny and streamlined the practice.

The whole idea was fun and established delayed gratification. As my daughter grew older I would see her at times with food at the piano on reserve as her personal reward. I taught this idea to piano students and found out this year that a graduated piano student took chocolate to work with her to reward herself at different intervals. I felt like she had taken some of my teaching with her as an adult.

I never used raisins to practice with my son; we used chocolate!


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