How To Teach Interesting Piano Lessons
If you're trying to teach interesting piano lessons, you have your work cut out for you. The biggest asset a piano teacher has is their personality. With an engaging personality and a friendly manner, a piano teacher can take a child as far as possible with the piano.
It's safe to say that kids do not like repetition that is not expressed as a humorous game, or contest. This is because the envelope of the game removes the drudgery for kids. The game is what makes the piano interesting to a child.
Piano Is Easy
Disguise Repetition As A Game
There's no doubt that learning the piano involves a lot of repetition. A clever piano teacher knows how to disguise repetition, at least long enough so the child gains a toehold on the skill.
Once the child has seen the benefits of repetition, do not expect them to embrace it. You will have to nudge them into it every time, and continue to make the lessons interesting. Soon they will be proud of their work and seek more repetition to gain more skill.
You are doomed if your only tool is reading music. That method works only for a tiny number of children, and is a disaster for the rest. Try to diagnose each child on their own. Arrive at some sense of how much music reading is just enough, and no more, to further their reading skills.
Use part of the lesson time for a rather free discovery of the instrument and music itself.
The Chair Of Doom Game
I have games like the Chair of Doom, wherein the child must sit away from the piano and then critique and describe the pieces I play. This in itself is ear training, or the beginnings of it. Kids need to hear the piano played in front of them, watching the hands, absorbing the movements non-verbally.
The Chair of Doom is just one of what I call non-reading elements. A lesson should have a proportion of one reading element to two non-reading elements.
Ratio Of Work To Fun
If you weight the proportion more to the reading side, the average child student starts to think of mutiny. Some kids require a proportion of one to three, or one to four. I have kids who are refugees from strict piano teachers who can only be interested in the piano if they are reading music.
It can take years before a child will willingly try to read music again. Such are the results for some kids when piano teachers insist on only reading music in the lesson. A good rule of thumb is to imagine the child at the piano, and get them to relax, and get away from the pressure.
Lower Your Expectations
Find a way for the child to feel like they are enjoying playing something, however awkwardly and simple. Lower your expectations to allow them to enjoy themselves. If you have that rare child piano student who cannot get enough of reading music, and they do exist, then you can pile on the reading.
Even so, such rare children are not real child musicians until I see them playing something and enjoying it, not just staring blankly at a page. To a child, either a piano lesson is interesting or it is boring. Period. There is a time and a place for stumbling over the roadblocks of musical notation.
But your real job is to make the child into the musician they are meant to be, however lowly that may be. Whatever skill level they eventually attain, a child is entitled to enjoy that skill, even if it is not up to what the "standards" say. Set the bar lower, relieve the pressure. Child pianists almost always reward you with increased interest.
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