A Visual Approach to Children's Piano
Using a visual approach in children's piano lessons assures you of success. Kids can play music far harder than what they can read on a page. Involve kid's with the piano through their brains, ears and eyes. Reading music off a page short circuits the enjoyment factor for children who have never played before.
Skill Reading Music Takes Time
Amateurs, especially kids, take a long time to derive pleasure from reading music. Disregarding this fact always leads to disaster. You cannot rush a child into reading music. You can rush them into playing music, and they will cooperate willingly, but try rushing reading music and you will have a fight on your hands.
To A Child, Music Is Physical
Music is pleasurable at the physical keyboard level first, not at the abstract, intellectual level of musical notation. Play first, read music later. It's not hard to do, especially for an intelligent child. When was the last time you took “pleasure” in finding information in the phone book? That’s how mundane reading music is to kids.
Kids Are Visual Not Abstract
Children are naturally visual. Presenting songs in a visual way is the quickest way into their budding imaginations. This may involve literally taking the child's index finger and showing them the sequence of keys.
Find The Song They Like
Make sure you have found a song that truly interests the child. You may have to go through a bit of question and answer, and show and tell, before you arrive at the right choice of song. If you do not arrive at a song for which the child expresses enthusiasm, you will have an uphill slog on your hands. Find the right song, and the child will work with enthusiasm.
Break Up Song Into Bits
Begin by dividing the song into tiny bits, perhaps three or four notes at a time, right hand only. Devise games that repeat that little part, and hammer it home without being robotic. Within a few minutes the child will have enough “parts” of the song to allow a version of their own to be played. Allow them to use one finger, both hands, or any combination that occurs to them. You will be amazed at what occurs to them with just a little bit of suggestion. You’re really getting them to use their ingenuity at the keyboard, and applauding them for it.
Don't Criticize Everything
Don’t criticize fingering or anything else. Get them to play the correct notes any way they can. Define your battle as getting the child to know the sequence of tones that make up the song. Once they get that, anything else is easy to add.
Too Much, Too Soon
Most piano teachers make the mistake of piling one concept on top of another, until the child is completely overloaded. Don’t be distracted by further refinements unless the child shows interest in such additions. Present them, but back off if the child seems confused. If they’re perfectly happy playing the song with one finger perfectly, so be it for now. You will see that children’s confusion at the piano stems from not being able to look at the page and their fingers simultaneously. Get the child to look at their hands. As soon as you show the child how to move, they will be able to imitate you to some degree, depending of course on the difficulty of the move. This visual method is far less stressful to a child than the usual method of trying to jam the entire musical experience through the little dots on the page.