Inflexible Piano Teachers

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99% of beginning piano teachers are inflexible, teaching the same rigid curriculum year after year. And year after year, 9 out of 10 kids reject this type of piano teaching, and quit, costing their parents millions of dollars.

There are two types of inflexible teachers, the young and the old.

They both go from page to page, but for different reasons.

The inflexible young piano teacher goes from page to page because they think that using a standard text from page to page constitutes a curriculum, and will be accepted by the child, allowing them to collect a fee.

The inflexible old piano teacher goes from page to page because they are lazy. It is easy for them, they’ve done it a million times, and there is always another six year old ready for piano lessons. Their fees are in no danger, though kids do quit frequently.

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The effect on the kids is devastating. They are marked as failures, and parents wonder about their intellectual capabilities.

But it is not the children’s fault that so many quit so soon. It is because of inflexible curriculum, and inflexible teachers.

There is an entirely different breed of piano teacher, and I would call them “creative.” They know all the standard texts, use them when appropriate, but do not depend on a set curriculum.

It is much more difficult for a piano teacher to sit in a room with a kid and ask, “What shall we play today,” rather than say “Let’s start on page 39, where we left off.”

It’s like walking onto the battlefield without weapons, and then deciding on a course of action. It might seem unwise but it is actually in the child’s interest that the teacher displays flexibility.

Inflexible piano teachers are often applauded for “high standards” and “teaching the basics.” What is ignored is their track record of inspiring average kids to take up an interest in the piano. Their record is horrible.

90% failure is nothing of which to be proud.

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What is the solution to this?

First, music educators have to realize that reading music is not the right platform to start kids at the piano. Eventually, yes, but not right at the start.

The first goal should be to somehow engage the child with the piano, and make music. Unless you make the kid like the piano, it’s really over.

The pedants call this “coddling” the child, call it “weakness” on the part of the teacher.

My response is to look at the child’s face, and see what might be possible that day. If it is playing Mary Had A Little Lamb with the index finger, so be it. We’ll build from there.

Build from what the child offers you naturally.

Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press

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