children learn the piano is a mystery to most people, and unfortunately
that includes a lot of piano teachers.
parents, even those with some musical background, enrolling their
children in piano lessons is largely a leap of faith: the parent hopes
the teacher will not alienate the child from the greatest instrument on
earth, and pays them for ostensibly doing so.
statistics are grim. 9 out of 10 children who try the piano using the
conventional starting methods will fail.
It must be
someone's fault, and the piano teachers have said for centuries that
they bear absolutely no responsibility for this.
rather strange. If, for example, golf teachers had the same track
record, there would be almost no golfers.
one of those rare piano teachers that get any child to play, and enjoy
it, I assert that this broad majority of piano teachers are wrong, and
are in fact responsible for the failure of most students.
to understand how the average piano teacher thinks. Here are a few
learned the old way, and so will you."
fail at my method, you had no talent."
know how teach any other way than the way I was taught."
method doesn't produce results, it's your fault."
here to pass on the tradition of musical knowledge. Take it or leave it."
from page to page in the old texts, boring and frustrating generation
after generation of kids.
personal example from my own past.
start out at the piano. I played the clarinet first.
never played an instrument. I got private lessons from a man we'll
call Mr. Jones.
play the notes, out of tune and squeaky like any 8 year old. But Mr.
Jones wanted perfection, and wanted to hear the clarinet as he played
it, which was very well.
insisted I play "long tones," wherein a clarinetist takes big breath
and plays a note for a very long time. Long tones teach many valuable
aspects of the clarinet. When Mr. Jones did it, it was beautiful. When I
did it, it sounded like a lamb being slaughtered.
after several months, he sent me home with a note that read:
cannot teach John. He has absolutely no musical talent."
treasured that letter ever since as a measure of how shortsighted music
teachers can be.
Why? I may
not be Beethoven, but I've had a distinguished career conducting,
composing and playing the piano. Not only have I given myself much
pleasure with music, I have given it to others. Had I taken Mr. Jones's
assessment of my talents, I would have become something else.
as a child, I also played clarinet one day for a group of my father's
artist friends, the painter David Park, who had a jazz group. They took delight in the one song
I knew, and made me play it over and over again as they wove variations
is that, to me as a child, music had much more to do with playing
clarinet with those jazz guys and enjoying it, than slaving away with
Mr. Jones and his long tones.
with that jazz band didn't kill my clarinet career. Mr. Jones did.
lesson? It's better to show a child why they should learn something
than to force them to absorb it on a level other than their own.
played with the jazz band, it was a raucous celebration.
played with Mr. Jones, it was worse than a trip to the dentist.
Aschenbrenner Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved
KIDS NEED FREEDOM TO LEARN PIANO
CAN ONLY ENJOY PIANO MY WAY
CHORD GAMES FOR KIDS