PIANO LESSONS: BIDING YOUR TIME
teachers confess that every once in a while they grow impatient
with a child.
What I notice
is that when this happens, I was impatient in the first place,
that is, before I ever saw the child that day. So whatever is
making me impatient is not the child, but myself.
The reason I
mention this is because a series of, say, 100 hypothetical piano
lessons with a single child will produce many instances of
The question is
how do you deal with it. I deal with it by looking into the
future of the child.
If in their
future I see me getting impatient a large number of times out of
those 100 lessons, it will lead to their overall impression that
piano lessons are a battle and a losing one for them. Why else
would the teacher get mad?
So I banish
that attitude, and never let it happen, even once.
Kids have this
little meter in their eyebrows that measures their thought,
�Is this adult going to get steamed?�
I can sense it
easily, and if I ever see that look in their eyes, I know to
warm up, back off, and think ahead 100 piano lessons.
disciplinarian piano teachers think that each piano lesson must
be a great victory for the �method,� and any laxness on the
part of the student is an insult to the seriousness of the
proceedings. A very talented, exceptionally motivated student
might stand up under such a regime, but never an average child
looking to explore the piano.
piano lessons� approach is the exact opposite of the
At the end of
100 piano lessons, here is what I expect:
want the student to have a few songs they can proudly play
at the drop of a hat. Not grudgingly played Beethoven above
their ability, but simply arranged familiar songs that
everyone knows. If they can manage Beethoven, even better.
should know at least the chords C,F,G,D,E,A at the drop of a
hat. They should be able to manipulate the chords in a
sequence, in their own fashion, or to a more complex set of
guidelines, whichever makes them happy.
should be able to read the treble clef. How much of the
treble clef depends on their attention to reading music and
desire to undergo the drudgery it involves.
should have at least tried reading music for the dreaded
bass clef (left hand) and know where the main notes of it
should be �deprogrammed� from forced practicing and
undertake new songs at will, choosing the songs themselves,
as they are learning to choose everything in life for
themselves. The teacher�s job is to make it a piano lesson
that adds up to a curriculum.
should be ready for a more rigorous round of lessons, if
they so choose.
should not hate or dislike their piano experience in any
should be able to pick up the piano again later in life with
enthusiasm, not a sense of dread for what piano lessons in
their youth were to them.
is gravy, and you are more likely to get it using a soft piano
method to start.
Using a soft
start method doesn�t mean the child will always use it. It
means that an exceptional child will move beyond the soft
methods very quickly, and any decent teacher recognizes talent.
But the average
child will stay within the soft method until they are ready to
leave, and hopefully never experience failure at the piano that
will make them want to quit.
It�s a hobby,