THE PIANO MEANS TO YOUR CHILD
The piano is
not just a piece of furniture.
The piano is
either a fun object, or a dreaded device, depending on the
experience a child has with it.
piano teacher is convinced they are here on this earth to teach
children to read music, and nothing else. To do anything
differently, they surmise, would be bad for the child, and would
be a dereliction of their professional duties.
stop to think that 90% of the children taught piano this way
will resist, rebel and then quit, never to look at a piano again
with anything but revulsion?
statistics (that every teacher knows and none will admit to you)
doom the average child to failure even before they begin trying
the piano, especially if they are taught by these arcane
simplest movements at the piano are excruciatingly difficult for
most kids because their brains are not yet fully developed. Thus
they have little problem solving ability outside of generic math
The piano, when
taught properly, is a tremendous mental proving ground for
children, but it must not appear that way to the child.
It's the piano
teacher's job to make the process of solving problems,
physical and mental, as easy and as enjoyable as possible.
Have you ever
seen a child with a puzzle they're interested in? They don't
want to put it down. The piano is easy to make into such a
puzzle-like device, if you are willing to listen to the child
and their needs.
Here are some
of the needs of a child within a piano lesson:
need to feel happy and secure, not judged and evaluated.
Enjoying judgment and evaluation requires maturity in excess
of what children possess.
need an atmosphere of collegial exploration. You may think
you're in charge, but if you have any horse sense you'll let
the child think they are in charge.
are over-managed these days. Let them blow off steam if
required. Encourage it.
focus on the child and their performance. Center the lesson
on The Song, that desired object they wish to possess and
you focus on The Song, the child will perceive your efforts
as helping them get what they want. If you focus on reading
music, they will only be convinced of their obvious and
you teach them a song they know and love, you have given
them something. If you only show them how to read music, you
have enlightened them on a subject that has absolutely no
childish interest for them.
be serious. When I look at my students during a lesson, I
almost always see a beaming face, as if the child is
thinking, "You know, I've had a hard day at school, and
I'm a little tired, but this guy is so friendly and funny
that I think I can enjoy trying to make music for a few
minutes. It's really kinda fun."
I teach a nine
year-old, headstrong girl who never practiced at first, mostly
because she is so smart that she gets things the first or second
time. But then she never tries them again, convinced there is no
After almost a
year she started having fun because I was so relentless in my
positive approach. I didn't care if she didn't practice, and
focused on getting as much done in the lessons as possible. She
learned dozens of songs that she chose for herself, and became
instinctively correct in her fingering.
intelligence led her at her own pace to start playing the songs
But here's what
her Mom said to me, that will tell you what the piano now means
to that little girl who began piano lessons so indifferently:
"Last week she
had friends over and she sat with them and they all 'jammed' at
the piano. She showed her friends how to play parts so they
could all play pop songs together. They played at it for an
hour. And she does that with all her friends. She wants to share
how much fun the piano is to her now."
Given a diet of
patience, the piano now means expressive, musical fun to this
How easily it
could have meant drudgery.