Why Children Fail At Piano Lessons
Why children fail at piano lessons is not a mystery. It is almost always the fault of the teacher. A teacher can destroy a kid's will to play in seconds. These teachers will say, "He doesn't practice, he doesn't pay attention." Saying a child doesn't pay attention simply defines what the child is like.
Inattention is part of the definition of childhood. They are in their own world, struggling to get into the adult world. How do you reach these children? Especially, how do you reach them with a skill-intensive art like the piano?
High Expectations Are Poison
First of all, you need to get your expectations as a teacher or parent in order. An art teacher who expects kindergartners to paint detailed frescoes is going to be bitterly disappointed. An art teacher who is wise enough to nurture the child's doodling may get an entirely different result. Similarly, with the piano, you would be wise to examine what makes the child not pay attention.
It All Depends On How You Present The Song
I was once teaching a song to a child, and that child was not paying any attention. Usually, I would let the child move to a song they were interested in, and go with that. But we were playing a song they had requested, so we set to work on it. I instantly noticed that the child could not grasp the musical groups, which were six or eight notes long.
Break The Song Down
I realized that their inattention was due to my failure to break the groups down into small enough parts. We began experimenting with two and three note groups, and this was an instant success. In fact, we then became involved in games using three note cells, or groups of tones. He learned a lot about chords and their similarities on the keyboard. Once the child grasped the idea on their level, they were able to enjoy any games or songs we played.
The lesson here is observation. If you really step back and observe children's piano experience, you will see that they are usually struggling with some small concept that prevents them from understanding the musical idea you are presenting. Try going a step back, and watch their behavior for the "comfort zone." For example, if you are trying to get the child to understand a six-note group, and they are failing at the fourth note, it means that their capacity is three notes. Observe the child and throw your process out. Mold your process to the child and be patient.