are two different situations that must be addressed. One is a
group lesson, and the other is a private lesson.
preschool group piano lesson is the most difficult to teach, even
if you have separate electronic keyboards with headphones. In that
case, you will find it a challenge to give each child the
attention they need and deserve.
better situation is a group class around a piano that the teacher
plays. It will really be more of a demonstration rather than a
lesson. Depending on the size of the class, the highlight is
always the chance for each child to come to the piano and play a
simple song, like Jingle Bells or Twinkle, Twinkle.
key is to impart a simple bit of information and then get each
child in turn to take part.
this situation, you will have to be something of a game show host
to hold the attention of the preschool kids who are not currently
chosen to play.
game I use in such a situation is to have the other kids sit in
their chairs and play a comic audience. One child is playing
"sleepy," another "bored," and another can be
the quiet listener. The child at the piano will only be playing
for a moment or two so you will have time to change the game
before the kids get restless.
can also play "Critic," where each child gets to review
the performance, and allow them to say anything.
goal is to get each child to come to the piano and convince
themselves that they can play a recognizable song. The look of
pride on their faces is priceless. And this is made possible by
the use of numbers, for without such a simple system preschool
kids have almost no way of gaining access to the purely
musical aspect of the piano.
situation is very age dependent. You'll have to teach a three year
old very differently from a five year old.
three year old must first be convinced that approaching the piano
is going to be fun. If they have older siblings who have had happy
piano lessons, and the younger child has witnessed them, it will
be easier to draw the child to the piano.
way to break the ice is to play the piano, happily and jauntily.
The happy sound of the piano is irresistible to children this age.
first goal is to have them find Middle C by using the two black
keys as a reference. Or I put a red sticker on Middle C and see if
they can aim accurately at it.
expect fingering, hand position or any other complexity.
you really want is simply a smile that says, "This is fun and
I want to do it more."
many kids can't find Middle C, but don't overwork it. Move on
happily and never act like they made a mistake. Try again, but
get the child to play a series of white keys moving up, to the
right, as if ascending a stairway. This is much harder than it
sounds, even for five year olds.
may get silly and start banging. Let them do it a second or two.
What banging really mean is that the piano excites them, and it is
up to you to organize it into levels above banging and noise.
a song the child knows, like Twinkle, Twinkle, and start to show
them how to play it.
is a huge challenge, and becomes almost a comic routine, with them
fumbling, and you laughing and showing them over and over until
they get a few notes.
and more praise is the only thing you should be expressing.
piano is not a critical experience, it is an emotional experience
for the child, and you must keep it happy to ever hope that they
will return and ask for more.
time enough for criticism later.