Carrot and Donkey: Find The Interest In Piano
Like the carrot and the donkey, your child has an interest in the piano because there is some reward. Take away the carrot, and there will be no interest. Children have a variety of reasons to try the piano. Here are some that I've found:
1. Mom suggests piano lessons.
2. A child has a friend who enjoys piano lessons and wants to give it a try.
3. A child sees a keyboard in a music video, movie or live performance, and is attracted to the idea of playing or being a star.
4. A child is attracted emotionally to the sound of the instrument.
Why Children Start Piano
In a child's mind there is a vision, an interest, before they ever touch the keys. Mastery is really what the child seeks. All childhood is really that search. Kids want to do something well and be praised.
We as adults should know that playing the piano, even moderately well, takes a lot of work, much of it repetitious. To play like a professional, which is what most children hear in movies, TV and video, takes Herculean effort over a period of decades.
Kids Only Care About Now
The child could care less about the future. They want to know "What is the piano to me now?" The problem for children is that piano teachers have confused two things: On one side you have the child's pure expectation of music. Hearing music gives them a fun feeling. They have never played a note.
On the other side you have the teacher's jaded experience: "I learned this way, that's the only way I can teach." Piano teachers tend to treat beginning children like cadets committed to the conservatory, but they are simply tender reeds potentially interested in the fun of music.
Kids Are Not Cadets
If you apply the "cadets" method to a tender reed, all you will get is a trampled reed. Children are looking for mastery, and if you needlessly make them fail, they will soon give up trying. As Stonewall Jackson said to his army, "Repeated victory will make you invincible."
A clever piano teacher can gauge the skills of a child and properly present the rudiments of piano in a manner and order that delights rather than confuses the child, regardless of their talent.
How Does The Kid Feel?
Thus the child's feelings about themselves and the piano are of paramount importance, at least at the beginning. Until the child has some degree of control with the instrument physically, you cannot ask them to start scaling the sheer Himalayan cliffs of piano technique and musical notation.
Teach children first what it is to make simple, enjoyable music at the piano, however crudely. Then try to embark on the long journey to acquire musical literacy. Conventional piano lessons, oblivious to child psychology, foolishly reverse the process and start children as disciplined cadets.