Visit Your Child's Piano Lesson
There are some good reasons to visit your child's piano lesson. It must be done so that your visit does not distract teacher or student. It's not just that piano lessons are an investment and you want to see that you get your money's worth.
You need to see the lessons so that you see the interaction between the teacher and your child. Use common sense and just observe. Is the child comfortable, smiling and engaged? Or is the child distracted, bored and detached?
The Transparent Method
If the child is distracted and bored, you're not sitting in on one of my lessons. I make absolutely sure that the child is ready to have a bit of fun at the piano before I proceed. If they aren't ready, I find a way to get them ready. Kids have a range of moods. Without pandering to them, you'll get more done if you match the work to the child's mood.
For example, a tired, cranky child is a terrible candidate for a lengthy note-reading seminar. If you take up the same subject briefly when they are bright and chipper, there will be better results and the result will last longer. Kids are grateful that the piano teacher is sensitive to their moment-to-moment mental capacity.
Kids Are Like Horses
In that sense, kids are sort of like horses: you can work them, but a cruel master gets far less than a friendly co-worker. I think I get better results in piano lessons because my students know absolutely that I will back off when it gets too hard. I always find a way of getting something musical to interest them, regardless of their mood.
Visit A Conventional Piano Lesson
What I describe I've seen for myself, or have had described to me by parents and other teachers. Anyone can say, "I'm a piano teacher," and conservatory training is no guarantee of anything, especially where children are concerned. This type of training is most likely of negligible value in interesting younger children in the piano.
Credentials Mean Nothing
Don't be fooled by credentials. Go visit the piano lesson process and make a common sense evaluation of it for your child. Listen to your child's reaction. Just because someone went to Julliard doesn't mean they know a hoot about kids and common sense teaching.
The worst of this breed of teacher goes from page to page in a book, most likely Alfred, Bastien or Faber (these are currently popular book methods.) Usually this approach is from inexperience, or sometimes perhaps burn-out. These people were taught piano this way, and think they will make a business from teaching your child the same way.
Teenage Piano Teachers
I've seen teenagers barely able to play anything set themselves up as suburban piano teachers, suddenly making $40 to $80 an hour. Parents who don't know what they're consuming may put up with it for years, not really knowing any better. And I've had parents tell me in this situation, "But they were the only teacher in town."
It's not an easy situation. Potential teachers who tell you,"But your child must be taught the basics first. I believe in the old method," are not telling you the whole story. The real factor in success at piano lessons is the child's interest level. I'll guarantee you'll not inspire much interest with books such as Bastien, Faber and Alfred alone.
Teachers Teach, Not Textbooks
Your child will run screaming the room if these textbooks are the only diet they are fed in the piano lesson process. Yet that is precisely what these inflexible piano teachers do. Often, other kids are visiting the students I am teaching, on a playdate or whatever.
These kids comment, "Gee, you don't just play from books all the time. You get to play fun stuff. We only play from the book, and it's really boring." Don't forget the real object of early piano lessons: to interest the child in the idea of the piano, and lay the seeds for further ongoing interest. Any more is overkill, and Carnegie Hall is not waiting for your child.