Fun Kid's Piano
Anyone who says, "If kids are having fun, they're not learning" didn't have the kid's piano teachers I had. I had teachers who taught "fun kid's piano." The result was a child crazy about the instrument. "Fun has no place in learning" may be true of law school or cramming for an medical exam.
Apply the same idea to kid's piano and you’re in for a rude awakening. Anyone involved with teaching children knows that sternness and discipline only work to a degree. Guilt is the wrong way to buy attention. Kindness works much better.
How To Get Cooperation
Ultimately, you’ll need the cooperation of the person you’re trying to teach. There are only two ways to gain the cooperation of a child: force, or love. If it’s hypothetically a life or death situation, you may be justified in using mental force.
Kid's piano is not such a situation. A teacher may manage to get the child to appreciate you and work willingly. But there is always the chance that the child will take advantage and goof off. That is a chance worth taking. I have never found a child who didn’t like being on an equal footing as an adult, even for a little while.
How Prodigies Are Taught
I had fabulous piano teachers as a child and young professional. No one yells at you or intimidates you when you are a talented young professional pianist. Anger isn't necessary or productive. There is a spirit of mutual respect that breeds a positive learning atmosphere. It's fun piano because there is no atmosphere of failure and drudgery.
What About Regular Kids?
You may say, “You can’t treat six year olds like professionals. That’s insane.” But you’re wrong. Kids have very developed antennae, and can sense force in a millisecond. You can use hypothetical, theatrical force somewhere in the background, if you only jokingly refer to it in the future.
But as soon as the child senses real force and anger, cooperation of the kind necessary to become interested in the piano stops immediately. You need to train the student to know when you mean business, and be clever enough not to make it odious for the child.
Two Professors Discussing Theory
Maintain a ten to one proportion of collegial cooperation to gentle force. Once you’ve established that force is rare and only used gently and when necessary, the child will begin to cooperate with you.
Never forget that a child is always ready for learning if they are in a good mood. Offer them the chance to be in that good mood as you teach them. If you act angry or cold this will never happen. Doing this takes exquisite sensitivity to the child’s reaction to your teaching. The average child becomes interested in the piano by means of series of lessons, not any single lesson.
The child feels they want to be in the room, and therefore they will learn as much as they can that day. I’ve never met a kid that wanted to spend two seconds in a room with an angry piano teacher.