How To Make Piano Students Quit

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Most authoritarian piano teachers don’t really care if you quit or not.

They are businesspeople, and demographics decree that another six year old wanting piano lessons is just around the corner. So go ahead and quit.

Many of the peculiarities of their personalities lead their students to flee from utter boredom. Here are a few.

  • Certain things will be learned in a certain order, and if the child does not understand, or might benefit from some other approach, your demand is inflexible: you must learn exactly what I say, or risk my wrath.
  • The old fashioned is scripture to you. Your student’s reaction to your method is irrelevant. Persist in serving the basic curriculum, in the old order, no matter what your student’s reaction is. The student is wrong.
  • You use only the standard teaching texts, Faber, Bastien and Alfred, and go from page to page, pointing out errors, demanding more repetition. Do not use any newer music outside the standard texts. It is of no teaching value. You may only play what you can read. That means Jingle Bells.
  • Your personality can best be described as dry and unsympathetic. If you are young, you only want to get to the next page. If you are old, you only want the lesson to be over.
  • Be very strict about assignments. Get mad when they are not done exactly as you say. Give the child a practice schedule and demand that the parent initial it every day. Get mad if they miss a day. Anger always motivates children.

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  • If you want to be really old fashioned, get a ruler and whack the child’s finger when that finger goes off track. That will help cement the idea that piano lessons are drudgery devoid of fun and games. You give out pain, work and endless effort at a task only dimly understood by the hapless student. Deepen the pall of gloom.
  • Make it very clear that your standards are impossibly high, and that no one except wonderful, hypothetical Joe Perkins lived up to them. Joe practiced the method six hours a day and now hates piano, by the way.
  • Sneer at child psychology. Children are lazy, ignorant slackers who would rather play with their iphones (the iphone part is actually true.)


  • Choose a pace for lessons that is set the same for each student: you must learn page 7 this week, and page 8 next week, no exceptions, no diversions, no tangents, no nothing. Follow the rules.
  • There is nothing else except reading music. When, if you play for 20 years, you can finally read that song you always wanted to play, let’s hope you’re still interested in the piano. Willing to wait 20 years? I thought not.
  • Never simplify anything. If the child wants to play a song they cannot read, veto the choice, and substitute a boring exercise piece that is “at their level.” Never take their choice of music and simplify it, bringing it down to their level.

The teacher is always right, and the student is always wrong.

Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press


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