WHICH SIDE OF THE PIANO DO YOU TEACH?
It sounds like a
silly question, but I have noticed that different piano teachers
adopt a different style in terms of where they sit during a piano
I prefer to be as
close as possible to the student, in case I need to take their
hand, or point to a finger.
philosophy that mistakes should be gently pointed out at the
moment they are made. There are exceptions, such as when a child
is doing well with one minor mistake, for which I do not stop. But
if they are stumbling badly, we stop and I start to break the
problem down into manageable bits.
All of this takes
proximity, although several of my favorite teachers sat at a
distance. This, however, was in very advanced lessons.
pianists need closer attention, sheep-dog style.
Thus I sit right
next to them. I prefer the left side, so that I can play an
accompaniment if needed. Many kids have to work out a song one
hand at a time, and it's fun to have a little accompaniment to
their musical efforts.
I find that, in
this close position, it is easy to play along with them, sometimes
having them look at my hand and then try to imitate it.
also makes the child feel like you are in it with them, rather
than standing at a clinical distance and judging their efforts.
Of course, there
are living rooms in which it is impossible to sit on the child's
left side due to other furniture and space considerations.
I don't mind
sitting on the right side, but since most children are right hand
dominant, sitting on the left side allows the child to concentrate
on their right hand, building skills and habits that both hands
I allow children
to play with the dominant hand, and favor it indefinitely, because
it builds confidence with their strongest tool, their right hand.
It's better to have them build the skill in the right hand and
then try to translate that skill to the weaker hand.
Playing with both
hands is a hurdle that younger children find difficult.
To help them over
this hump, you should allow them to learn pieces with the right
hand alone. Then, when the right hand is almost automatic,
introduce a small element of the left hand, perhaps one note at
the beginning of a bar, or one chord at the beginning of the song.
If you dilute the
frequency and complexity of the left hand until they have mastered
the right hand, you will find that children start to accept the
left hand as a sort of "helper" that does less, and adds a
little simplified detail. Children are very afraid of failure, and
since adding the left hand is confusing in two-sided brain terms,
they shy away from it. Accept this fact, and work with it.
I try to keep the
music flowing, with as few stops and talking as possible, so
sitting on the left allows me to keep playing and demonstrating.
We're here to make music together, and if it is ragged and
tentative, so be it, but we make music continuously.
In addition, kids
need to see your hand at the piano as an example.
monkey do, with apologies to the monkeys.