voice and hear much discontent in the piano teaching world, there are
still aspects of piano lessons that children enjoy outside of the music
foremost is the one-on-one time a child spends with a piano teacher. The
famed Shaw study points out that children have a rise in IQ simply by
spending happy, useful time one-on-one with a caring adult.
attention. And a creative piano teacher is nothing if not an
attention-paying machine, watching their fingers, their mood, their
posture, and their skills.
Think of a
piano lesson as an educational and emotional spa for children.
lesson should have the relaxed, regenerative effects of a spa visit, if it
is done correctly.
It is easy
to make learning the piano into drudgery, and many piano teachers have
perfected this pointless specialty on countless millions of willing
approach is to engage the child directly, at their emotional level. This
is absolutely necessary to establish a teacher-student relationship that
has aspects of both friendship and apprenticeship.
measure, it is perhaps more important to greet the student and find out
what their "weather" is like today, than to leap into the next aspect
of your method at the beginning of a lesson.
I�ve found that very interesting avenues of conversation can be opened
up by simple questions like, "What music have you heard lately that you
might answer that they like the music to a commercial, or ask if you can
play it. If you can, do so. If not, steer the conversation to some song
that both of you know, but for which they show a demonstrable enthusiasm.
children will say they have a CD with a track from a band, perhaps from an
older sibling. If you are smart, pop the CD in the player and see if there
is any recognizable portion you can figure out, and play it for them, even
if only with one finger.
them that song, or a portion.
This "transparent" approach to a piano lesson does two things.
gives the child a musical experience with a song they like and will want
are party to a collaborative search for music, its arrangement, and
performance. The teacher really acts more as a guide than an unstoppable,
infallible master, demanding specific achievements.
time enough for reading music and other pursuits, and the child will be
satisfied that they have had a few moments of interesting talk and playing
there's time enough for a tiny bit of reading music, which they will be
willing to do now that they have had fun.
Give in to
the child's mood, and use that mood to help them find ways to enjoy the