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How Kids See The Piano

What do you think kids see when they see the piano? In my experience as a piano teacher, kids see a huge piece of furniture that makes noise. Later, they realize there's an order to it, especially if they see someone play it and actually make music. That's why it's so important for parents to play, or try to. The least you can do is have music playing on a CD. Kids don't understand music history except for the fact that adults tell them Beethoven, Mozart and Miles Davis are the greats, like baseball heroes. Kids see baseball heroes, or movie stars all the time, but not great pianists.

Complexity Scares Kids

Kids don't understand Vladimir Horowitz, or the Romantic Tradition, and can't conceive of Carnegie Hall unless you describe it in painful, irrelevant detail. The idea of musicians competing like athletes is absurd to them, unless they understand the pop music charts. Kids remember seeing someone play the piano well. They are not certain they will ever do the same. In fact, many kids are convinced they will never play well. This is a testament to their reasoning abilities: the piano is exceedingly difficult to play well. The younger the child, the less they are able to get their brains around the dexterity required to play well.

Teachers Can Make Piano Distasteful

If a child has a bad piano teacher, the piano is an instrument of torture. It is not difficult to make a kid's study of the piano into a veritable negative jungle: "Correct this, you didn't play that, sit up straight." That seems to be the mission of most piano teachers. It takes patience, creativity and courage to make the piano into a beloved toy that a kid can understand and operate.

Kids Don't Understand Practicing

Kids have a limited perception of deferred gratification, and this is why they don't understand the process of practicing. The only way to truly get a kid to practice the piano is to give them music they really love, presented in a form they can handle. If you do this, the gratification is immediate enough to be of use. Then the hard part begins. You have to continually interest them in that piece of music until they master it, or gently discard it when they become bored.

Win Friends And Influence People

Kids who can play even a simple tune are admired by kids who can't. It is a simple feather in their cap, and kids need feathers in their caps to feel good about themselves. Piano teachers would do far better to pay more attention to their students' reactions to their program, and less attention to whether the kid can master their method. A far better way is to derive the method from within the children themselves. The result will be a child exerting maximum effort at their own pace. The form of the piano lesson is not the method, it is the content. Whatever content (games, tasks, songs) it takes to further interest the kid in the piano is the form the lesson must take. Impose your heavy-handed method on the average kid's piano lesson and watch the student wilt like a flower without water.

 

PIANO BY NUMBER

We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!

PLAY ALONG SONGS ARE FREE!

Our PLAY ALONG SONGS are produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Castellon of Sesame Street. They're such an important element in making the piano fun for kids!

PLAY FUN & GAMES

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Our books and videos are created by Emmy Award winning composer and leading children's educator John Aschenbrenner. Get your child happily started at the piano!

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