PIANO VS. HARD PIANO
I'll tell you
exactly critics of "soft piano" methods say:
be made easy."
methods instill bad habits."
conventional manner is acceptable. Anything less is cheating the
piano' is diluting music education."
those four statements and examine them. I'll try to be fair,
but I'm obviously biased.
PIANO CANNOT BE
they are right: you can't make the Rachmaninoff Concerto #2
much easier. Yes, there are obvious standards, and the piano
curriculum, at all levels other than the very beginning, is
quite codified and clearly laid out in ascending levels of
But it is the
beginning of children's piano lessons that concerns us. Unless
you can get the child to continue with lessons, starting with
their very beginning, it matters not what method you use: a
bored child is a bored child.
You can call it
music education but if the child is turned off, your efforts as
a piano teacher are OVER.
Thus, we are
not talking about making piano easy forever, but only at the
most crucial point, the beginning.
And here, the
beginning, the dogmatists are insistent: you learn to read music
first, and nothing else matters, period. Anything else is
heresy, and thus "soft piano."
The answer to
these fools is "Piano MUST be made easy in the beginning, by
any means, or you will not have a student to teach." The
dogmatists don't really care if your child learns, in their
own peculiar, slow way.
will be quick to brand your child a failure when they fail at
THE METHOD, and find another parent who believes, "The old
METHOD is the only way."
Their concern is income from lessons with the least
trouble to themselves, not your child's unique experience of
experience of their method is utterly irrelevant to the
METHODS INSTILL BAD HABITS
doubt that learning the piano is learning to have a series of
habits. Correct hand position, good fingering instincts and
muscular dexterity are all prime traits of a professional
pianist, along with a thousand others. Without them, you really
cannot scale the Everests of the piano literature.
But the kids
aren't "mountain climbers" yet, and are not even really
"hikers" of the piano.
crawling into an intellectual and physical world unlike any
other experience they will ever have, and you as their teacher
would do well to make their first experiences very enjoyable if
you wish continued, enthusiastic attendance, which is a MINIMUM
requirement for really learning the piano.
treat the children like sober cadets committed to the cause, why
not treat them kids like voters, who must be wooed and reasoned
pays off later, a thousand-fold.
that the worst habit you can have at the piano is not wanting to
sit at the piano and play.
Yet that is the
prime skill most piano teachers unconsciously instill FIRST, and
then expect rapt obedience.
repeated, happy attendance at the piano to instill good habits
of any kind.
CHEATS THE CHILD
"Hard" piano courses are doomed statistically to failure
even by admitted industry standards: nine out of ten kids fail
using conventional piano methods alone, and these methods are
usually restricted to reading music.
So if you
DON'T tailor the piano curriculum the child, you will cheat
them of their piano experience because they will hate it
and quit, thereby effectively ending your child's first
attempt at the piano. They may try later in life, but they will
remember it as unpleasant and, well,
does not convince the child to explore the piano as a fun
activity is a bad thing, and cheats the child of possible
continued interest in the instrument: these are CHILDREN, after
all. Use common sense, horse sense, child sense.
DILUTES MUSIC EDUCATION
I assert that I
am doing the opposite.
I am forwarding
music education, specifically piano, in that I am attracting and
keeping far more children as students, and turning them into
avid players at whatever skill level they are comfortable with.
institutional standards as irrelevant in the teaching of the
piano to young children; all that matters is the child's
experience of piano lessons.
Piano by Number
does the same, on a larger scale. Any device that allows people
to become avidly interested in the piano is to the good.
Think of the
cultural circle: you have more piano players who buy
instruments, who attend concerts, who buy CDs, who employ
musicians, in an endless cultural loop that is fueled at the
beginning by CHILDREN, the future of music and the piano.
children you interest in music, the more robust your musical
there is no American musical culture for children other than the
wasteland of Disney.
If you want the
piano to disappear from children's experience then, by all
means, make it as difficult as possible.