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What's Wrong With Children's Piano?



Mean Piano Teacher

What's wrong with children's piano education? What is causing the huge slide in interest? Why are piano stores closing? Why do people want their children to play piano in the first place? You don't ask kids to add, you let them use a calculator. Parents don't ask kids to walk, they drive them everywhere.

No one reads books for information, you use a computer. Given the changes in the world, why play the piano at all? There are computers nowadays that will do that quite well for you. There's only one reason, and that's the joy of making music on such a grand instrument.

The Piano Is Comforting

The sound of the piano has a comforting feel to humans. In fact, as a former film composer, I can attest to the fact that film composers use the piano as a "musical synonym" for home, house and hearth. When we hear music, we feel joy at the wordless world that is sound. As to children's musical and piano education, it is this sense of joy that has been lost by the educators, the publishers, the schools and the teachers.

Meeting the guidelines of state and national associations is not music making to a child. Being forced to play meaningless (to them) exercises is not making music to a child. It doesn't matter how much the pedants tell you, "It's good for you." It's not good for you unless you're a mature, committed musical artist. Force is toxic to a child's interest in making music.

Discipline Is Not Education

Being judged by stern taskmasters is not making music to a child. It may be to a symphony violinist, but it isn't remotely fun to a child. Children don't know or care where Carnegie Hall is, and are not prepared to "practice to get to Carnegie Hall." Anyone who pushes the life of a musician on a child is insane. Treating average kids who apply for piano lessons like they are gung-ho cadets who have signed up for life-long conservatory training is madness.

Page To Page

What is the first act of the average piano teacher? They open up the Book One and start on Page One. This is almost inevitable given the pitiful lack of creativity on the part of piano teachers today. What is the reaction of the child? "I thought playing piano was going to be fun."

If you expect a child to understand deferred gratification at the piano, you are not suited to teaching children anything. Period. If you have a "one-size-fits-all" mentality, you should be working at a hardware store. Every child's mind is individual, and the path to unlocking their love of music may not be obvious.

Let Kids Be Kids

Disciplinarians believe that children must behave and not "be themselves" during a music lesson. If you do this, you will slowly sap all joy from the act of making music and produce a rebel. Any piano teacher who uses the "whip" is a failure. Force, guilt and anger never work.

The only thing that ever works is time and patience. You're on the right track if your goal is to get the child to return for another lesson with enthusiasm. Put fifty or so "returns" like that together, and you might be able to interest a child in the piano.

PIANO BY NUMBER

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

Play Along Songs Are Fun!

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