Overcoming Frustration in Piano Students
Overcoming frustration in piano students is a problem you should never let develop. Be clever enough that the child never enters the frustration zone. As soon as you see them step across that threshold, you have to quickly figure out what it is that they need to know to feel comfortable.
From a creative piano teacher’s point of view, a child who is frustrated hasn’t been properly prepared for the task at hand. It’s the teacher’s fault, not the kid’s. Back off, regroup, break the ice, change the mood. A frustrated kid is telling you that you’re going too fast.
If They Falter, You Haven't Prepared Them
Cleverly Constructed Victories
You must do the same, watching always for what they don’t understand, but never letting them know they haven’t got it.
The child’s deficiency at the piano serves one purpose. To tell you what to teach, not what to punish them for. Done properly, piano lessons are a set of cleverly constructed victories into which the teacher has gently led the child.
How High To Set The Hurdles
I could push him, but if I do, I feel him shrink back. He tries as best he can to keep up, but he’s just not ready. What do you do? If he can’t read music or understand fingering, there’s not much left you can teach him, right? Wrong.
Give Better Preparation
There’s an endless list of skills that need to be filled in before any child can really start the “standard” curriculum. Thus, realizing that the child needed “precursor” work, we switched course immediately, and solidified those skills until he is ready. He wants to learn now, and you should find a curriculum that suits his immediate needs.
Time Is On Your Side, Use It
Most of all, what kids need is time. It takes lots of time for a young mind to grasp some things. If you expect comprehension on the order of an adult, you shouldn’t be teaching children’s piano. Using this rule, I give them time. I come back to things very briefly to see if it has “marinated” long enough in their brain.
Just keep gently repeating what it is you want, and know when to back off immediately. Most of all, show don’t tell. Kids hate lengthy explanations. If you can’t make a fun game out of it, you’ll have to wait until they are ready. After all, it’s the child’s piano lesson, not yours.