A laughing child is easy to teach. An upset child is almost impossible to teach. Which would you rather have? It all has to do with the teacher’s manner.
Thus, with some kids, I adopt the manner of the comedian. Some kids like it in varying degrees, depending on their personality. I have very serious kids who don’t want any humor.
But I think what such a teacher is saying with such a manner is, “I will never go faster or harder than you can take. There will always be time for childish good humor.” It puts the child at ease.
Now you can go to work.
Games are inherently funny, especially if you adopt, even for a few seconds, the manner of the game show host.
Kids are in school all day, often with humorless pedants. Piano is an elective after school activity. Think about what the child is expecting.
Kids are going to learn the basics, anyway: fingering, chords, both hands and a host of other skills. It will go down much easier with a dose of humor.
The humor is not at odds with curriculum, nor is it a substitute for it.
So you will go through all the standard curriculum, but when you see an opportunity for humor, use it, laugh with them, and then back to work.
Sometimes we simply have to stop work to follow our vein of humor, but the time isn’t really wasted: a kid who has been given his “head of steam” with humor will be ready for work.
STUPID TEACHER GAME
Sometimes, when a child is bored, we switch chairs, and I become the student, or a very stupid teacher. The tables are turned.
I act like I need their help on the simplest of tasks. “Where is Middle C?” “Where are the black keys?” “What is a C chord?”
Sometimes I pretend to be a spaceman-robot, who needs to find Middle C, but somehow is too stupid to understand any explanation the child offers. They must try again and again, rephrasing, constructing their argument to get the spaceman to understand. It forces them to think.
OTHER GOOFY CHARACTERS
Sometimes the child becomes the teacher and I play a very stupid student called Hubert (apologies to anyone named Hubert.)
Hubert can’t do anything, especially the skills the child has already learned well.
The dialogue might go like this:
Hubert: “Where is Middle C?”
Teacher: “Next to the two blacks.”
Hubert: “In the middle of the two blacks?”
Teacher: “No, to the siide.”
Hubert: “Which side?”
Teacher: “On the left of the two blacks.”
Hubert: “The white key?” (Hubert plays B, the wrong note.)
Teacher: “No, the one right next to black key, don’t skip any keys.”
There! You have gotten the child to demonstrate total knowledge of every fact that will lead them to Middle C, or any C.
They will never forget Hubert and Middle C.
Any skill can be taught using humor.
Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press