Kids Reject Old School Piano

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Old school piano curriculum has stated since 1830: you will read music first and play what you like later. The problem is that you will quit before you play any music you like.

Every bit of old school rules are valid, in the abstract. I learned the old school way. The question is, does it work for kids today?

Actually, the old school never worked for anyone except those destined for the conservatory. For amateurs, for children, it was the same disaster 200 years ago as it is today.

Elements of it are useful, but if you teach only using this method, you’re in for a rude awakening: 90% of your students will quit within a year.

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Restricting a student to only reading music will stifle enthusiasm quicker than anything else.

Better to proceed on a two-branched approach: read music separately from playing music.

Reading music can only be done the old way. But playing music can be done in a thousand ways. Blind people can make music, so reading music is only an optional skill.

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This two-branched approach works well with kids, since it gives them the flavor of playing music while at the same time starting to build the old-school skills. Playing music by any means fuels their enthusiasm while the old school work lays the basis for further conventional study.

So let’s make a new rule for child pianists.

Currently kids are taught as if they were candidates for a music conservatory, ready and willing to do the blind, numbing labor it will take to succeed. This is insane. You don’t teach hobbyists the same way you teach professionals. This is poisonous for kids.

The basis for teaching kids piano should be: interest every child on their own level and at their own pace.

This means letting kids play music by eye, by ear, by number, by letter, by any means that is easy and exciting. After that, see how much music reading they can take.

You can force feed a child music theory, or let them explore songs that they like.

The choice is up to you.

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