The Philosophy of Piano for Kids
The philosophy of piano for kids is to keep it on the kid's level or don't teach it at all. There are other philosophies, such as disciplinarians. The philosophy of piano for kids needs to be made as simple as possible. It's transparent or it's useless. It's a non-lesson. Throw out your ideas of music theory and pedagogy, and start thinking like a television game show host. That's what you will have to be in part, to properly teach and inspire a six year old at the piano. Look at the child you are about to teach and ask, "What do they hear? How much TV do they watch? What was the last film they saw?" Ask also, "What is their attention span?" A dim-witted piano teacher can make piano into drudgery very easily.
Present The Piano As A Toy
Use the piano to convince kids that it is just another toy. When they see the piano as a non-intimidating toy, they will adopt it and start playing with it like any other toy. If they are scared of you and the piano, you have failed. If they say, "It is too hard," listen to them. Look at their face and see if it is too difficult. If it is, or might be, back off and find another way to get them to understand, or play a game.
There's No Reason To Be Angry
Skills at the piano tend to be in layers, combining many little skills into one complex motion. Even the simplest act is full of little details. Fatigue, seriousness and guilt are interest killers. Avoid them like the plague. If a kid sees a skill as too difficult, break that skill down into smaller, more manageable bits.
2000 Repetitions For Each Skill
A toddler takes 2000 repetitions to learn a motion, like picking up a cup. Think of how much more difficult even the simplest move of the fingers at the piano is. That will tell you how patient you must be to teach piano for kids. Show everything and don't tell and talk so much. A child needs an absolute physical example, rather than an lengthy explanation. Play more than you talk. Show more than you tell. Move the show along so there is no possibility of boredom.
Make Tasks Age-Appropriate
If it's too hard, it will never work. You can't force a child to be more mature. You have to lay out the pieces so that even a four year old can assemble it. Think of a Lego. There are Lego sets that are difficult for even adults to put together. Piano for kids can be one thousand times more daunting. A rule of thumb might be, if they are not having fun with it, it is too hard. Reduce the piano to an easy Lego set. You can add more later.
Know When To Challenge A Child
You must know when and how much to challenge them. Challenging a child at the piano is the privilege of a nurturing teacher, and do not abuse it. Use it only when they are very ready, and mask any defeat. Regarding defeat, pretend it does not exist. Never, ever let a child know they have committed some great error unless you make light of it and can make them laugh. Children watch your face when they make a mistake. If they see you smile, the show goes on. If they see you seriously displeased, they will fold and feel inadequate. Your impatience and judgment get you nothing. Being serious leads to guilt. Once you are in the guilt zone, most willing effort is impossible. Don't forget whom you are teaching. Kids have no idea Carnegie Hall even exists. Back off, lighten up, and lay the groundwork for that next lesson. If you are nice enough, there will be one.