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Shame Based Piano Teaching

Shame Based Piano Teaching

When a piano teacher's only tool is to make the child feel ashamed for not learning, I call it "shame based piano teaching." Do any of the following statements sound familiar? "Why didn't you practice?" "But your mom is paying for lessons." "Other kids get it faster than you."

Anyone who applies these policies to children should try working in a gas station, for you may be more suited to that line of work. No child I have ever met anywhere responded to guilt with anything other than shame.

Do you honestly think such statements will make the child work? When does shame equal a motivation to work? Only when there is fear involved.

Kids Practice If They Like The Song

The only reason a child "practices," or at least repeats a song a few times, is that they like the song, and get pleasure from playing it. If children "practice" the piano for any reason other than pleasure, you're creating a robot. Robot behavior is for committed cadets, who know what they are in for with repetitious practice.

Until you set up the basic piano lesson transaction as "play the piano, have some fun," you will never get anywhere with any child at the piano. That is the "dues" the piano teacher must pay to gain access to the child's mind. A mind filled with fear and guilt will not absorb the magic of music.

Shame Is For Professionals

Shame based teaching works well with professional musical artists in competitive conservatory or professional situations, not with six year-olds. Professionals are used to such manipulation. Children are defenseless against it. Lastly, if the child does not practice, and you still wish to open the doors of music to that child, you have two choices:

Get them to play and practice at the lesson under your benevolent eye so that the child gets the idea that they should go have fun on their own with the piano. If you don't show them how to have fun in the lesson, they will be lost the instant you leave the room. Give them fun tools, bits of songs, passages, riffs, anything that gets them to want to play the piano.

Never refer to whether they have practiced or not. In all likelihood, they haven't. Expect that they haven't practiced, and never get mad. Then you at least have a jumping off place to try to launch them next time. Never give up. Never show disappointment. Everything is "par for the course."


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


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 and helping get a good start.



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