Longevity is essential to a series of piano lessons, as skills are learned slowly and carefully, taking time and repeated effort.
For the average child, the most crucial choice at the beginning is the teacher. Choose the wrong one and it’s over.
But what are you looking for? Who exactly is a teacher who can carry your kid through a long study of the piano?
There may be more than one teacher, as you may move or need to change.
But the one quality that any child’s piano teacher must have is patience, and a good sense of humor wouldn’t hurt.
So the choice of teacher is crucial. A good match between teacher and student is essential if they are to get along together long enough for any real work to get done.
Next consider the personality of the child. Are they high energy or laid-back? Every kid is different. You don’t want a happy, bouncing child to have a grouch for a piano teacher.
What about the age of the child? For beginners, you really need a specialist who is experienced in dealing with kids and enjoys doing it. Very young kids need a gentle manner from their teacher.
In terms of longevity of the lessons, nothing matters as much as the patience of the parents and teacher. The truth is that many kids are not suited to the piano at first, and need a long time to get used to it, and develop a real interest in it.
Parents and teachers have to be prepared for long periods of no apparent progress at all, without expressing anger, shame or guilt. You’ll just have to wait while their brain develops and the teacher has time to mold what is there right now.
No single lesson is going to make your child a pianist. It is all of the lessons taken together, and all the future ones that their interest demands, that will do the job.
The very first skill instilled by a clever teacher is to make the child enjoy sitting at the piano. They are there to have some rather intellectual fun. Teachers who cast a pall of gloom and say, “Have you practiced?” are missing the point.
A better approach is to never demand practice and never check whether they have practiced. It will be obvious once they start playing, so reminding them with guilt is pointless.
Better to simply start off from where you ended the last lesson, and have a brand new experience. If they haven’t practiced, then you practice with them, then and there, making it fun.
The most crucial factor in whether or not they practice is the choice of song, and also the age of the child.
From the first lesson, let them choose the song. Then, you simplify it for their age and abilities. A child is 100% more likely to practice (play outside the lesson) if they have a song they love. It’s up to you, like a waiter offering canapes, to find the right song.
Next, lower the bar and accept their performance with a few corrections, and then immediately find another song. You will come back to the current song later, when they are fresh. For now find another song they like, unless they want to work on the current song, or are willing to add other complexities to the current song, like chords or fingering.
The real question is, “How do you make piano a part of a child’s life?”
Unless you do that, lessons will last a year or so, and then that’s it.
The real answer is two-fold. It depends on the manner of the teacher (patient and warm) and the patience of the parents.
Many parents demand accomplishment and force their kids to practice. Since kids are obedient, they put up with it. But here’s the secret: years later, I meet these kids and 100% of them hate the piano. Ask around, you will find that is the truth.
So allow kids to be kids, find the right teacher and sit back and wait.
A few tips: ask your kid for a concert, maybe even with a reward at the end. Ask them to teach you, showing an interest in their problems.
Longevity is by definition achieved slowly.
Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press