Nurture Your Piano Students

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Some piano teachers are disciplinarians, others are slave-drivers, and then there are those that delight and entertain their students.

Kids are uncertain what they can do, but a supportive teacher makes almost anything possible.

The key element is verbal, a non-stop barrage of supportive, humorous banter that keeps the child working and laughing.

One of my favorite films is The Horse Whisperer. I think the same approach applies to kids at the piano. As the Horse Whisperer said, “I put the rope around their neck, but I don’t yank on it. I put it on the ground and let the horse know I’m not doing anything until he’s good and ready.”

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Thus your conceit, as a piano teacher, should be that the last thing on your mind is a piano lesson.

Act as if it’s a coincidence that you are there every Tuesday at 4.

I usually start by just sitting down and starting to play, no words, no lecture, just fun music that draws them in.

Get them in a happy mood, ready to have fun. The work comes later.

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Some kids want you to be quiet while they try to play, but most don’t mind a soft stream of banter about fingering, chords, jokes, anything that keeps the fun but educational mood going.

You’re not neglecting to correct them, but, rather, are correcting them in the gentlest, most humorous way possible. A frightened child is impossible to teach.

I try to adopt the manner of the obedient English valet, correcting each error with the softest of semi-sarcastic velvet gloves.

Laughter is extremely important. React to mistakes with humor and laughter. It is enough to make the child aware of the error, there is no need to humiliate them.

If the music is too difficult, simplify it. There is always something to be learned.

You have to find that place where the child feels at ease, for that is where you teach them the best.

I try to find some aspect that they are good at, and concentrate and expand upon that.

In fact, your whole approach to that particular child should be based on what they do well, only slowly moving into areas with which they have difficulty.

Find what they can do easily and build upon that

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