The Backwards Piano Method
In the backwards piano method, the child plays piano first visually, and later learns to read music. This is the reverse of the accepted, conventional curriculum, which is, “Read first, play later.” I coined this “backwards” term to describe a large portion of successful piano students.
The reason these piano students are successful is because they grasp the sense of making music, however humbly. This is enough to keep them going over the hours, weeks and years it takes to learn the skills of the piano. Reading music is only one of dozens of skills you’ll need to play “properly.”
Some Rules Are Bad For You
Countless people make the mistake of listening to piano teachers who say, “Oh, no, you must read music first. You’ll never play properly unless you learn to read music first.”
The truth is, you’ll never play piano at all if you get mired in the drudgery and confusion of musical notation. Reading music alone will drain all enthusiasm and enjoyment from the act of playing the piano.
You need to have a chance to enjoy making simple piano music outside the realm of sheet music.
If you start with reading music alone, you’ll quit as soon as humanly possible because one crucial thing is missing from this old-school regimen: enjoyment.
Reading Music Is Very Confusing
Reading music is one of the most complex things a human brain can do. If you expect to wring anything resembling fun out the beginning stages of learning the piano, you’ll devise a different route for yourself or your student.
Piano Is Easy
Become Fascinated With The Keyboard
Once they started playing the piano in any way, albeit with a simple, visual system, they became so fascinated with the keyboard that not being able to read music couldn’t stop them at all.
The key to a successful start is the principle that I have stated many times: Anyone can visually play piano music far more difficult than what they can read from sheet music.
Conversely, to limit oneself to playing only music one can read is to starve the musical soul.
Reading Music Is Starvation
Being restricted to reading music is the reason why most children quit, because they subconsciously realize that the exercise pieces they are playing are boring both musically and spiritually.
But children have a hard time voicing such emotions. The result is that they quit, since that is the only choice conventional piano teachers leave them.
In every case, at some point these non-reading good piano players come to me, usually in their early teens after all the childhood lessons are over, and ask, “Okay, now will you teach me to really read music?”
Reading Music Is Easier When Older
And that moment is when the students, both adult and children, truly succeed, for learning to read music is actually much easier when you already understand the physical sense of playing the piano. This applies to six year-olds as well as adults.
Every child who reaches this point in the “backwards” method goes on to read music very well, and of course they already play well. The advantage of this piano method is that your candidate is always enthusiastic, eager and attentive. They are choosing the “diet,” and you are merely serving the food.