Finding The Path To A Child's Piano Talent
Finding the path to your child's individual piano talent takes hard work and common sense. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for average children at the piano. The piano teaching industry is set up to create and serve a miniscule number of extraordinarily gifted pianists and child prodigies. The needs of your average child are not considered. And yet you as a parent want your child to enjoy playing the piano however humbly. The only way to accomplish this is to choose your child’s piano teacher very, very carefully. I’ve had students who resist every effort to engage them with the piano, sometimes for years of lessons.
Fear Holds Kids Back
Yes, these kids are the difficult cases. I am hired to be patient no matter how long it takes. My job is to produce a child who likes the piano on their own terms. The parents can see their child’s behavior since I teach in their home. They know my methods and results, and are willing to watch as I unravel the unique path to their child’s piano talent. The single greatest factor I have discovered in these kids is fear of failure.
Fear Of Failure
You can see it in their eyes when I play a new piece to see if it appeals to them. If the piece seems too complex, they fear they will not be able to play it, and so shy away from it. Here the child is giving you very valuable information; “I’m willing to try playing but not if failure seems certain.” In this case your path must be simplification. Make everything so tremendously easy that the child cannot fail. A song may have to be broken down into ten or twelve little sections. You must endure all their childish procrastination with good humor and an almost biblical patience. An attitude of seeming not to care if they fail is very valuable for the teacher. The child is looking at your eyes, and if they see anger, the lesson is almost over. But the results are quite interesting if you are willing to wait.
Patience Pays Off
I’ve seen these kids become avid piano hobbyists, asking every week, “Teach me that song that goes…” You don’t have to ask such kids to practice. They do it on their own until they get bored with the song, and ask for another. Some write their own music, some of it quite good, some of it gibberish. Yet each effort shows their love for the instrument. I always take up their songs quite seriously and play them in various styles so they can see what their little seed of a song can become. These kids may not read music as well as the others, and so I tailor the curriculum to them so they can play by ear and eye, using chords. My job is to remove any obstacles to their enthusiasm, to the point of shamelessly lowering the bar so they can comfortably hop over. Once you find the correct path to the child's piano talent, there is no stopping them.