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Reverse Psychology and Children's Piano

 

 

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Start with numbers, then read music

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REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY AND CHILDREN'S PIANO

Some children can be guided directly to an appreciation of playing the piano.

Others cannot be approached directly and need to discover it on their own, usually as part of a humorous game.

Here are common situations and reverse responses:

I DON'T WANT TO PLAY

Say, "Neither do I. Let's not." The child will be very surprised. Tell them there is a secret device that will explode or emit a terrible smell if they play Middle C, so they won't want to play that, will they? Block them physically from playing and beg them not to hit the Middle C button. Once they play that, add other keys and claim it's a secret spy code. Sooner or later they will have played enough notes for a song. Put it all together, and you have a child making music in spite of their stated desire for the opposite.

What they are really saying: "I don't mind playing but don't make it boring, and see if you can engage my mind instead of just my obedience."

I DON'T LIKE THIS SONG

Say, "Neither do I, it's a terrible song. What's a great song you like and would like to play?" Be prepared to play four dozen songs until you find one the child likes. If it turns into Name That Tune so be it, but there's a lot to be learned from a session of Name That Tune. Sometimes, if the book they are reading from is old or discardable, I tear out the page they don't like, which always startles them. Find a song then child likes and then be clever enough to disguise learning it as a game. If you can't do that, you shouldn't be teaching children's piano.

What they are really saying: "I thought music was pleasurable. You deliver drudgery."

Here are a few further rules or pointers:

  1. No matter what happens, it is a cause for amusement. If you are disappointed the child didn't practice, express it wryly, humorously, in a way the child can understand, and with no tone of guilt, whhich is the opposite of what they are expecting. The point is, your anger or sourness isn't ever going to get them to practice. Finding a way to interest them, on the other hand, will get them to play, perhaps later to practice. Sweet works, sour doesn't.
  2. Always go with their suggestion. For example, if a child idly plays a bit of a song by themselves it means they are interested in it. Drop whatever curriculum you have prepared and work on that song and see where it leads. Often you can find a way to use the song to subtly illustrate your curriculum (fingering, chords).  
  3. Never leave a lesson with the child feeling guilty or down. A child remembers how the lesson felt emotionally. Leave them feeling that you had a fun time, tried to learn a few things, and wouldn't mind trying it again. Four dozen piano lessons later, you'll be glad you did.

Never forget that most children's secret fear is that the piano teacher may get mad and humiliate them. Once you establish that this will NEVER happen, the sky is the limit, and you have a willing candidate who can work at his or her own speed, with occasional gentle prodding.

Children at the piano are expecting drudgery. Reverse psychology demands that, instead, they get absurd, uplifting fun. Train them to expect that, and you have a budding pianist.

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2012 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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TOPICS OF INTEREST TO PARENTS:

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Piano Lessons: A Child's Point of View

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THE COMPLETE BOOK PACKAGE: 

1. 107 page illustrated THE CHRISTMAS CAROL KIT Book with 44 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers   

2. 120 page illustrated PIANO IS EASY Book with 50 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers 

3. 50 page I CAN READ MUSIC Book 

4. 132 page TEACH YOURSELF PIANO STEP BY STEP Book, 56 minute DVD Video and removable stickers 

5. 141 page THE BIG BOOK OF SONGS BY NUMBER Book with 130 songs, and removable stickers 

6. 88 page EASY CLASSICAL PIANO BY NUMBER Book with 10 songs, and removable stickers, and 29 minute Play Along Audio CD 

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