Piano by number for children's piano lessons

 

 

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Teaching, Guiding, Playing, Friendship? What Sort of Piano Teacher Are You?

 

 

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Start with numbers, then read music

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TEACHING, GUIDING, PLAYING, OR FRIENDSHIP? WHAT SORT OF PIANO TEACHER ARE YOU?

These are the four levels of teaching piano:

TEACHING: Think of it as the old fashioned "do-what-I say" method. There's not much leeway for the student, and the curriculum is the ancient one: read music or die.

GUIDING: To guide a student, you must have a goal, and that first goal should getting the child to like and then love the piano. Curriculum is secondary, attitude is more important.

PLAYING: When musicians play together, there is a sense of give and take. Judgment is suspended for the sake of pleasure. 

FRIENDSHIP: Have you ever seen one child show another how to do something? There is a sense of cooperation that hardly exists elsewhere.

There are elements of each of the above in a healthy piano teaching curriculum. Blending them depends on the age and interests of the student.

In a music conservatory, one accepts the teaching of the master, and hangs on every highly paid word. But don't expect a child to understand that.

Eventually the student becomes a friend of the master, and the relationship becomes more equal, with two "students" examining a mutual problem.

Conventional children's piano teaching recognizes only the "teach" approach, anything else being heresy, fuzzy thinking and lowering the bar.

But anyone experienced with children knows that the "teach" approach works only as long as you have the child's enthusiasm. When you lose the initial enthusiasm, piano lessons becomes drudgery for the child, and the piano teacher is relegated to the uninspiring role of taskmaster. The piano teacher, equipped only with "teach" tools, loses hold of the thread of the child's interest, and the lessons disintegrate. This failure scenario is all but inevitable with the single "teach" approach. 

On the other hand, the child's piano guide assumes that interest will ebb and flow and that it is pointless to proceed without the child's wholehearted interest. The guide has to be willing to set out a problem, disguised as a game, a million times, never letting on that the child has failed or not lived up to "expectations."

In other words, I don't care how many times it takes you to learn the fingering to Fur Elise, as long as I can get you to keep trying. I have seen too many kids "get it" on try number 1,000,001 to stop. But if you let them taste failure and your sour reaction to it on those million tries, you have created a child who will always hate Fur Elise and probably the piano.

This process of setting forth a problem and then seeming not to care if the child has mastered it is but a ruse. Slowly the child will realize, "Oh, he wants me to put my finger HERE!" If you, instead, make the child feel, hundreds of times, a failure at a task you have clearly defined, you are defeating the process. Let the child discover the problem by themselves, with your guidance and assistance, but NEVER your obvious negative judgment.

The first goal is to get the child to play without judging themselves. The teacher can only appreciate and approve. The least praise I give is to say, "That's an interesting fingering, all thumbs, hm, do you have other fingers available today, just asking?"

To the child, it would appear that their mistakes are amusing and interesting for the teacher, never bad, stupid, slow and a result of not practicing. Use humor, never negativity.

A piano guide cleverly sets out the problem without announcing it as a mountain to be climbed. And then every time they fail, scoop them up, laugh and either go on to something else or come back to the problem later.

Of course they're going to fail: your job is to get them to try again and again. Failure is utterly irrelevant. Stop seeing only their failure. Hone their attempt.

Simply put, if a child quits, their piano teacher's manner has taught them how to be a failure. I can make ANY child a pianist with enough patience and humor. 

Failure is always the piano teacher's fault.

Failure means you can't make music enjoyable to a child. And if that is true, you shouldn't be teaching piano at all.

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2011 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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TOPICS OF INTEREST TO PARENTS:

"What is a good age to start piano lessons?"

"What are the benefits of playing piano for my child?"

"How can I help my child read sheet music at the piano?"

Piano Lessons: A Child's Point of View

Visit the WALDEN POND PRESS ARCHIVES and read articles about children and piano

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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 

6 BOOKS, DVD AND 3 PLAY ALONG AUDIO CDS 

Our BOOK PACKAGE price: $89.95Click here to order THE COMPLETE PIANO PACKAGE

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