Piano is inherently
difficult for everyone.
Yes, it's especially
difficult for a six or eight year old to figure out physically how to
please the teacher: where do my fingers go, which one, when, which hand,
what note, how long?
The older the child, the
easier the list of tasks is, but it's always rather difficult to get the
hang of it at first.
The list of interlocking
tasks and skills necessary to learn the piano is endless if you stop and
think about it.
The strategy of a
children's piano method should ideally be to reduce the beginner's
list of tasks to the bare minimum, and repeat a minimal skill in creative
ways until the child has firmly mastered the physical act of playing the
The concept of freedom in
this discussion comes in at this point. Children learn piano in different
ways, and the teacher can go with the flow or against it. Some kids are
ready for certain concepts, like fingering, and some aren't yet, for
A perfect example was a
child today that was just beginning to learn fingering and was having a
slow time with it. But he suddenly said, "Hey, I wrote this song!" and
proceeded to play a perfectly logically-patterned ditty in the key of C.
What was remarkable
was that this little melody was comprised of almost all stepwise motion,
perfect for showing the ideas of fingering.
So we played a game with
his song, trying it with different finger combinations, in which he
delighted because it was his song we were using.
He readily understood
what I was trying to say about putting the fingers in a row, and adopted
the idea immediately into his song, playing it in perfect C position
(right thumb on Middle C.)
We went on to other
things, and then I slyly came back to his song, played it twice, and then
sprang a book of sheet music on him, a simple Bastien exercise piece. He
had been having trouble with the idea of fingering with it the last time
he had seen the book.
But now, with his own
"fingered song" under his belt, he had no trouble putting his hand in
the correct C position when sight-reading. The reason this happened was I
waited and saw an opening in his interest.
Any child who feels
comfortable enough to offer up a song he has written is a student to be
followed. Listen to that: I follow the student. What music teacher does
It takes tremendous
creativity and patience to teach this way.
Often it is the repeated
impatience of the teacher, not the incompetence of the student that spells
the end of the student's enthusiasm for piano.
Relax, and watch the
student. They will show you an opening where you can gently get in and
If a student seems
interested in a certain concept, say, rhythm, then follow that enthusiasm
at that very moment, and show them that more good things lie underneath that.
Follow your student's
spark of enthusiasm wherever it goes.
Aschenbrenner Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved
also A CHILD'S
BILL OF RIGHTS FOR PIANO LESSONS
also WHAT A CHILD
SHOULD EXPECT FROM PIANO LESSONS
TRANSPARENT PIANO LESSON STRATEGY
CAN ONLY ENJOY PIANO MY WAY
WAYS TO BE A BAD CHILDREN'S PIANO TEACHER
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