YOU SHOULD VISIT YOUR CHILD'S PIANO LESSONS
It's not just
that piano lessons are an investment and you want to see that
you get your money's worth. You need to see the lessons so
that you see the interaction between the teacher and your child.
Use common sense and just observe.
Is the child
comfortable, smiling and engaged?
Or is the child
distracted, bored and detached?
guarantee you that if the second statement is true, you're not
sitting in on one of my lessons. I make absolutely sure that the
child is ready to have a bit of fun at the piano before I
proceed. If they aren't ready, I find a way to get them ready.
Kids have a
range of moods, and, without pandering to them, you'll get
more done if you find what work is appropriate for which mood.
For example, a tired, cranky child is a terrible candidate for a
lengthy note-reading seminar. If you take up the same subject
briefly when they are bright and chipper, there will be better
results and the result will last longer.
Kids are grateful that the piano teacher is sensitive to
their moment-to-moment mental capacity.
In that sense,
kids are sort of like horses: you can work them, but a cruel
master gets far less than a friendly co-worker. I think I get
better results in piano lessons because my students know
absolutely that I will back off when it gets too hard, and that
I always find a way of getting something musical to interest
them, regardless of their mood.
one thing that characterizes my lessons, it is the picture of a
child running to the piano. They know for certain that I will
make it fun. Once you get them running to the piano, the job is
Just keep their
mood up and don't overburden them with brainy problems. Break
those problems down into tiny little problems and then make a
game of putting the problems back together. Kids understand it
as a game, not as work.
reassuring them of their progress, pointing out the slightest
correct move. You have to be like a super-aware sheep dog,
watching every move, and gently nudging in the right direction.
LIKELY SEE IF YOU VISIT A CONVENTIONAL PIANO LESSON
What I describe
I've seen for myself, or have had described to me by parents
and other teachers.
I'll try not
to generalize about the noble breed of piano teachers, but there
is no control of what is out there. Anyone can say, "I'm a
piano teacher," and conservatory training is no guarantee of
anything, especially where children are concerned.
As a matter of
fact, conservatory training means that the artist has been
trained according to methods that are applicable only to
professional aspirants, and most likely are of negligible value
in interesting younger children in the piano.
fooled by credentials. Go visit the piano lesson process and
make a common sense evaluation of it for your child. Listen to
your child's reaction. Just because someone went to Julliard
doesn't mean they know a hoot about kids and common sense
The worst of
this breed of teacher goes from page to page in a book, most
likely Alfred, Bastien or Faber (these are currently popular
Usually this is
from inexperience, or sometimes perhaps burn-out. These people
were taught piano this way, and think they will make a business
from teaching your child the same way.
teenagers barely able to play anything set themselves up as
suburban piano teachers, suddenly making $40 an hour. Parents
who don't know what they�re consuming may put up with it for
years, not really knowing any better. And I've had parents tell
me in this situation, "But they were the only teacher in
town." It's not an easy situation.
teachers who tell you,"But your child must be taught the
basics first. I believe in the old method," are not telling
you the whole story.
Of course a
child must be taught the basics, but in order to do so, the
child will have to show up to HUNDREDS of lessons. The real
factor in success at piano lessons is the child's interest
level, and I'll guarantee you you'll not have much interest
level with books such as Bastien, Faber and Alfred alone.
Your child will
run screaming the room if these textbooks are the only diet they
are fed in the piano lesson process, yet that is precisely what
these piano teachers do.
kids are visiting the students I am teaching, on a playdate or
whatever. They comment, "Gee, you don't just play from
books. You get to play fun stuff. We only play from the book,
and it's really boring."
the real object of early piano lessons: to interest the child in
the idea of the piano, and lay the seeds for further ongoing
Any more is
overkill, and Carnegie Hall is not waiting for your child.
2009 John Aschenbrenner Walden Pond Press