The Old School Teaches Repetition
The old school of piano teaches repetition. That is their only tool. Like children in a Dickens drama, they must recite the rant or risk the master's blazing wrath. I don't mean the professors at professional conservatories. They're teaching committed professionals who can take whatever they dish out.
I mean the local piano teacher down the block who teaches the neighborhood kids and is known as a taskmaster, a bit dour and gruff. This sort of teacher has several books which he uses, and you must go from page to page. You risk his displeasure if you do not master with gusto each dry, boring exercise piece. "Dancing Fifths" (an imaginary, dull exercise piece that children hate) is his heart's delight.
We're Diluting Music Education
I ran across such a teacher who posted to a forum we have. He wrote, "I suspect that those who would make piano fun are simply diluting the value of music education." Diluting the value of music education by making it fun? The implication is that unless music education is un-fun, it lacks value. I'd hate to be a kid in one of his lessons. Imagine spending a half-hour with such a sourpuss. Such teachers believe that it is better if you don't enjoy his teaching.
Assumptions Of The Conventional Teacher
Piano teachers like this completely misunderstand the nature of childhood. Childhood is the time to explore things and see if they interest you, not be saddled with rote learning that crushes you. Piano teachers like this assume that you want to be Horowitz, or that their job is to make you into Horowitz. How about playing some Horowitz recordings and showing the kid what can be done with the instrument?
Strict Teachers Are Causing Extinction
Piano teachers like this believe that the only way to learn piano is the way they learned piano. But the problem is that your students are not you. Piano teachers like this have no concept of where the piano is now in history. The piano is about to become extinct because of their style of teaching. What the world needs now is more kids interested in the piano, who become interested in concerts, who start to listen to good music. The strict piano teachers have destroyed this cycle of amateur interest with their ridiculous expectations.
It's A Business
Piano teachers like this are only concerned with filling their lessons and making money. They have no thought of what the piano will be in four generations. I'll tell you what the piano will be if we go on like this. It will be a piece of furniture in a museum, rather than a part of childhood that sits in your living room. When the foolish methods of conventional teachers have eventually turned off every child to the piano, you will have no students to pay you. But these teachers don't think about the future. They want your money now.
Most Kids Never Play Piano
Here's the 99% rule which will help you see why you should "dumb down" piano lessons for the vast majority of children. 99.99% of the kids who start piano will never be more than amateur hobbyists. The conventional teachers see this as bad. I see it as very good for the future of piano and music, and for the kids who are lucky enough to include piano music in their lives. We need as many people interested in the piano on any level, or it will become extinct. It's almost extinct now. The .01% left over may become gifted amateurs who are the heart of the piano world. 99% of those gifted amateurs will never go further. 1% of those gifted amateurs might go to a conservatory. 99% of them will fail at their careers if they seek fame, for there are no record companies, and no public venues or interest. It doesn't matter how good you are if there is no interest and no jobs.
There Are No Piano Careers Anymore
It is foolish to treat kids as if they were destined to become the one pianist who survives this ridiculous system. This system treats every child as if they had a career at Carnegie Hall waiting for them. Get real: there are no piano careers any more. A good question is, '"When is it appropriate to dilute music education with fun?" The answer is, "Whenever you are attempting to interest a child in the piano."
Get A Teacher Who Understands Kids
In closing, to the piano teacher who said that fun dilutes the value of music education: You should be working for a government agency, spreading your virulent nonsense and destroying interest in the piano for billions of children. The government would probably give you a grant. They surely will never give support to anyone who spreads interest in the piano.