Late Bloomers In Childhood Piano
Late bloomers in childhood piano are those children who may show little interest for years, and then suddenly wake up to the idea of playing the piano. If you are patient enough, you will find that many, if not most kids, are late-bloomers at the piano. This means that they may take years of lessons, but not latch on enthusiastically until some mysterious point in the future.
There are two factors governing this process. First, the longevity of the lessons must be assured. The child must survive the lesson process long enough to build the various skills without becoming a resentful robot.
Reduce Stress Of Curriculum
You have to be in it to win it. Making piano lessons a non-stressful experience allows these slower moving late bloomers to find their balance without a sense of discouragement and failure. It may take months or years. Second, the lessons must be conducted in a setting so benevolent that the child wishes to return.
Every time such a child leaves their unspectacular piano lesson, you have “money in the bank” of enthusiasm if they are willing to return. Their return may be due to the entertaining teacher.
Success Takes Many Lessons
It takes dozens if not hundreds of such non-threatening encounters to make the average child into a child who is willing to try piano on their own terms. It takes even more to make an average child into an enthusiastic piano hobbyist. I submit that I can make any child enthusiastic about the piano if you give me enough time, enough lessons in which sometimes nothing seems to happen.
It is enough if the students sense that this teacher is wonderfully patient and wants them to play. That is emotional real estate upon which a piano teacher can build.
Stop Going So Fast
Every child has a slow day, some have a slow year, and there is no moving this stone unless it wishes to move. Continuing the stone comparison, you can convince the stone that a little movement will not hurt at all. “Review lessons” are a way of giving both poor and good students a chance to catch up to themselves. Here they can refine songs they had started but dropped. It's a chance to find new achievements that they didn’t know they had made or to which they were close.
I use review lessons with late bloomers to convince them that they do know several songs, to give them a feeling of accomplishment. To such a child, playing any song with no major errors is a huge accomplishment. It matters not if the fingering is perfect, if both hands are used, if parts are left out or rearranged in their childish heads. What matters is that they have pride of ownership of a song.
Memorization Is Genius
You have no idea how many hundreds of times I introduce a song to a child, have it rejected, only to find two years later that they want to complete it and have learned almost the whole thing in their own way. Any sign of memorization is a sign of genius, as far as I am concerned. It is a sign that the inner physical workings of the song has penetrated their brain and being, and now can be acted upon like any musician.
Late bloomers almost always memorize their way into a song. It is their way of inhabiting the song at their own pace. That is why it is very important for kids to play music that is important to them. It doesn't matter how silly the song is to adults and their curriculum.
Only The Song Matters
To the child, the song is the most important thing there is in a piano lesson. If they like the song, they will try again and again to play it. Find the songs a late bloomer likes, make them playable and accessible for their abilities, and they will bloom sooner. But be prepared for many a piano lesson that seemingly produces nothing. As long as a lesson does not produce the desire to quit, it is a victory.