AT THE PIANO: REPEATED VICTORY WILL MAKE YOU INVINCIBLE
"Repeated victory will make you invincible," is actually a
statement made by Stonewall Jackson to his soldiers, but it
seems to apply to children at the piano as well.
children's piano teacher, I strive to get a child to have the
right attitude towards the instrument itself, for that is half
And have you
ever seen a child in love with a toy they CANNOT operate? Of
course not! The child will get frustrated and turn away. And it
is the same with the piano.
Thus one of
your major objectives, in the beginning especially, is to
engineer the child's experience of the piano so that "victory" is very easy to achieve. Having achieved that
victory, raise the bar, perhaps, and make it harder, but never
exceed that child's actual grasp.
If you confuse
and frustrate the child, you achieve defeat for the child, and
repeated defeat will inevitably lead to the end of the child's
enthusiasm for the piano.
This is why, in
the main, children quit piano at the rate of 90%. Their piano
teacher, who adheres strictly to the standard "reading
music" curriculum alone, has served them defeat after defeat.
Of course the
child loses their enthusiasm, folks, they are KIDS!
So how do you
victory to the child by any means necessary.
example. I have a nine year-old student who is very, very
bright, but personally not the best master of his time, tending
to go on tangents and waste time.
He learned a
piece call Toccatina Twister, a fun teaching piece that kids
Over the course
of a year, I would come back to that piece, over and over,
asking him to play it for me, no big deal.
After a while,
he started adding bars, and repeated sections that he liked. It
was fine musically, but it was not what was on the page. The
truth is that his arrangement was far harder to play
than what was on the page!
There were two
Correct him in
fifteen different spots, which would be difficult given the
habits he had developed, and which would destroy his gusto for
Or, let him
play it the way he wanted. I did just that, telling him, "Hey,
I gave him
victory, snatched from the jaws of defeat.
does I make if he repeats a bar or adds a section? If he were to
play for the State Teachers Board (as many piano teachers are
foolish enough to do) they would tell him it was
wrong and unacceptable to not follow the score. Guess what would
happen to his childish enthusiasm then?
What did my
approach reward him for?
The result was
a child who wants to make music at the piano, on his own terms,
with your expert guidance.
Stonewall Jackson leading his troops in the Civil War.
He kept them
from conflict where defeat was inevitable, and prepared and
planned their actions so that they always produced victory.
victory at the piano makes children enthusiastic.