"Think mindfully. Calm down. Take a few mindful breaths. Think about calm things and don't be all hyper."
Sounds like something a piano teacher from California would say, right? Except it wasn't. It was Sasha, age 8, telling Mooey (the push puppet) to calm down. He had gotten SO excited watching her mindfully keep her joints from collapsing that he couldn't pull himself together.
Sasha's hand position could best be described as rickety. Getting her to address this issue requires imagination, persuasion, and in this case Mooey the push puppet. I've written about him before.
Today I simply want to underscore the importance of age-appropriate props, toys and silliness for serious things like hand position-building. Hand position is not the most scintillating topic for a typical 8-year-old. But using a prop and turning it into a game with rewards (music money, in this case) transformed it into something she loved. During the lesson, Mooey whispered in my ear, prompting me to reward her even more generously than I would have on my own. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? It's fun. And it works. Mooey collapsed in a heap every time Sasha let her joints collapse. He nodded gleefully every time she kept them stable. Sasha earned enough money by the end of the lesson to "buy" a small paint set.
When Sasha used language from her school's Mindfulness Program to calm down an overexcited Mooey, I was amused. She liked helping him calm down. She herself, had been excited about the whole lesson.
That had been my goal. To get her excited about something important.
So far Mooey hasn't let me down.