Kids have good
days and bad days.
have the knack of changing tears to laughter, simply by
understanding that what the child needs is not �business as
There are bad
days that you can make into useful ones, and bad days so bad
that they are useless in terms of piano lessons.
If a child is
really distraught, there is little chance of a lesson, unless
you decide to make it into a mini-recital lecture, perhaps of
the funniest music you can find. Or tell funny stories about the
great composers. Click here to read a few.
But the lesser
degrees of childish discomfort can be combated in a variety of
boredom, bad mood and apathy can usually be dispersed with a
round of theory games. It is the gamesmanship that will keep
them interested when they are in no mood for pedagogy.
I once had a
little girl as a student, and one lesson she was distraught
because her cat was lost. There really was nothing we could do.
No game sparked her interest, no joke raised a smile.
�there.� I made sure that she didn�t feel any displeasure
on my part, and taught her little brother instead.
The next week,
the cat had been found and everything was fine. She had the best
lesson in months. If I had made her work when she was upset, she
only would have remembered the drudgery of that day. Instead,
she was refreshed and ready to go. No loss to anyone for being
lenient and understanding.
I suppose the
real lesson was that we are allowed to enjoy the piano when we
want to, not just when the teacher says it�s okay. Bending the
rules in this direction will buy you, as a piano teacher, a lot
of friendly mileage that can be redeemed for good work at a
No matter what
the outcome of the lesson, good, bad or indifferent, you must
leave the child with the impression that they did a good job,
and that you look forward to more fun next week.
This can only
be accomplished one of two ways:
1. If the child
is in the right mood, they will have a good lesson and the
praise will be deserved.
2. If the child
is not in the mood, you will have bent over backwards far enough
for them to have learned something AND had fun. The proportion
of the two is irrelevant.
If you leave
the child feeling guilty, incompetent and sad, you have moved
backwards, and the child�s enthusiasm for the piano is
that the child, if they feel bad at the beginning of the lesson,
will at least feel good when they leave.
For those who
say that I coddle the kids, I would reply: I�ve seen the
results of hard-edged, accomplishment oriented piano teaching,
and I have NEVER seen one of these kids just be a kid and enjoy
playing the piano.
Yes, for a very
few kids at the top, these methods work. But for the average
child, it�s like making a three year old play basketball with
teenagers. Of course they�ll hate it.
disciplinarian piano teachers, it�s always a psychological
battle for the child, with the teacher and the parents on either
side, and the loser is the child�s enjoyment of music, which
is actually why you started lessons in the first place.
gifted child will not experience any negative effects by
starting with a �soft� piano method. Simply switch them to
the �hard� curriculum if they take to it. I have done this
hundreds of times, and it always works.
But start the
average child on the �hard� system, and you get the
statistics the piano teaching industry is famous for: 90%
�soft,� test the waters, and then choose an appropriate
curriculum for that individual child.