I was teaching a
very smart 9 year-old boy his second piano lesson.
He was very
enthusiastic about learning Fur Elise, a song by Beethoven, and so
we started to learn it.
teacher's instinct was to let him try it without fingering at
first, to get the idea of how it looked on the keyboard, and then
later attempt to apply fingering.
understood the rather complicated pattern of notes, and got it in a
It was then that I
I instructed him
how to use certain fingers for certain notes, and took small three
or four note bits so it would be easy to understand.
But it wasn't
easy to understand. He had no experience (or just one lesson's
worth) with his fingers, and was at a complete loss remembering
which finger to use where.
For a moment, my
mind was becoming impatient with the boy, thinking, "But this is
But it was not easy
for this boy, and that was all that mattered.
I watched his face
as he tried. He was trying very hard, and he wasn't being lazy or
inattentive at all. In fact he has a wonderful attitude, sunny and
As I tried to push
the fingering on him gently, I watched him get frustrated for a
It was then I
realized that he was doing his best, and if I wanted him to enjoy
Fur Elise on this day, fingering was going to have to take a back
He could fail at
fingering Fur Elise because of lack of preparation in fingering, or
play it with one finger and enjoy it.
Guess what we did?
We played Fur Elise
joyously with one finger for ten minutes, and then I quickly changed
the subject to finger organization games. I did this to start giving
him training in "fingerology" which had nothing to do with the
fingering games will lead to a greater awareness on his part of his
fingers and that is the first step in being able to negotiate a song
like Fur Elise.
The advantage of
having him learn Fur Elise in this simplified form is his enthusiasm
for the song.
Never trade a
technical accomplishment if it is purchased at the expense of the
child's enjoyment of the song.
I guarantee you
this kid will play it with fingering, if not next week, then the
But I didn't kill
his enthusiasm to be a "good teacher."
enthusiasm, at first, is always more important than your curriculum.
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