My Kid Says He Hates His Piano Teacher
"My kid says he hates his piano teacher. I'm paying $60 an hour for this. So, what do I do?" First you need to answer the question, "Why does my child hate his piano teacher?" Unless you can answer that question, the ship is dead in the water. The answer is, "Your child's piano teacher is an idiot." You don't think piano teachers can be idiots?
Piano teaching is an unregulated, intangible art that involves a very intimate intellectual relationship between a child and teacher. One of the big complaints in Liszt's day (a famous pianist and teacher of the 1870s) was that anyone could hang out a sign and say they were a piano teacher.
Some Teachers Are A Waste Of Money
Unless that teacher is as crafty as a fox and can figure out how to interest your particular child in the piano, you're wasting your money. This is because paying someone to lead your child from page to page will never inspire your child. The reason for this is that all piano teachers have a "one size fits all" curriculum that is proven boredom for kids.
To elaborate, piano teachers have a single method to begin lessons, and unless your brilliant, quirky, immature child responds to it, the lessons will go nowhere.
Beware The Child's Apathy
To be more specific, all piano teachers begin with reading music, believing it to be the be-all and end-all of piano teaching. But experience teaches us that the child will be restricted to simple music. It will inevitably be uninteresting. Disinterest leads to boredom, and boredom leads to quitting.
It's all under the teacher's control, but they will not admit it. They say, "He's slow, he doesn't practice, he doesn't follow directions." Well, of course he doesn't, he's six years old!
Refugees From Bad Piano Teaching
I get many of these "refugees" as students, still wanting to play the piano but discouraged by bad teaching.Just yesterday I taught a 15 year old Vietnamese student, and she told me the story of her previous teacher, in Saigon, who yelled at her and struck her fingers with a ruler when she made a mistake. This is in 2016!
She is a superb talent, musical and already composing her own material. What she requires is intelligent guidance and advice, and extreme patience, two qualities her previous teachers lacked completely. Many teachers deal only with the technical aspects, without trying to create whole, happy young musicians who are willing to try anything, no matter the difficulty.
Guidelines For Success
So here are some guidelines: Don't tell them what to play at first. Ask them, "What song do you really want to play?" If at all possible, arrange that song so they can derive pleasure from playing this first, simplified version. Don't insist on practice as if they are cadets who know what the drill is. They don't. You have to show them, patiently. Don't insist that your method is working when, clearly, it isn't.
Kids are like horses: they either like it, or they don't. Don't compare any kid's performance to another's. Learn how to accept what a child offers naturally and build upon that. Don't forget that patience, not guilt, is your only real tool. You will get nowhere making a child feel bad about the piano.
Try praise, and make the hurdles low enough that they earn it frequently and genuinely. Don't insist on accomplishment. Invent fun games whose only possible outcome is accomplishment. These are kids, not astronauts. Future astronauts, perhaps, but not today, at six years old.