You Can Only Enjoy Piano My Way
"You can only enjoy piano my way." The strict, conventional piano teacher conveys this to the student. These teachers don't care whether you enjoy it or not. A parent mentioned that, “My older daughter had two years of piano, but the teacher was crazy about theory and technique, so finally she just couldn’t stand it any more.”
What really happened was the teacher set up a rule: “You will learn the piano my way, or no way, and whether or not you enjoy my way, you will do it or quit.” With that rule in mind, the student, quite intelligently, quit. The child was only following the teacher’s directions.
Listen To The Audience
I would compare a teacher like this to an actor or musician who gets terrible reviews and no applause, show after show, year after year, and never seems to get the message from the audience, “We don’t like it.” I’m not saying piano teachers should play to the gallery with bells and whistles and jester hats.
But a little patience, flexibility and humor wouldn’t hurt. The teacher described above had a captive audience, a seven year old, whom they failed by boring them to tears and making them hate the piano.
The Rewards Of The Conventional
The 10% who succeed are touted as their “prodigies,” and proof that their method works, when, in fact, all talented kids will succeed at the piano with or without your help. The child’s point of view is irrelevant to these under-trained, insensitive teachers.
After all, there will be another crop of seven year olds next year, and the year after. This is why, after decades of turning out 90% failures, 10% successes, these teachers are all still in business.
Piano Should Be for All Kids
Who cares if your over-active, imaginative kid-who-can’t-sit-still fails at the piano? You do, but the teacher really doesn’t. Your “hard to teach” child is really a bore to them, a trial and a chore of which they’d be rather be rid. They’ll insist this isn’t true, but you know it is.
Do you pay a gardener who cuts 10% of your lawn? A company that paints 10% of your house? It’s as if a house painter, who only completes 10% of his jobs, by the way, turns around and says, “I can’t do it. Your house is unpaintable. It’s your house’s fault.”
The parent’s position is difficult. They are paying a professional to teach their children. The professional will always say, “I’m right, you don’t know. Listen to me. Make them repeat and practice even more, even though that is clearly what they hate.” Parents don’t know the intricacies of the piano, much less teaching it to six year olds. But that in itself is the problem: the teachers are applying professional standards to the kids, in order to comfort their own ego and self-estimation of their “method.”
No One's Going To Carnegie Hall
A primary reason kids fail with these teachers is that the teachers are training the kids for Carnegie Hall, not your living room. Don’t you want your child to sit in your living room and simply experience the joy of playing the piano, however humbly? Isn’t that the point of all this?
So of course most of the kids fail. They weren’t meant to fail. They were made to fail. And you paid the teacher to do it. The solution? Try ten teachers until you find one your child actually likes.
Self Teaching With A Book
If you can’t find this type of teacher, teach them yourself. If you can’t teach them yourself, start using a child-friendly method like Piano by Number, or something equivalent. I don’t recommend software-based systems. It’s better to start right out with the instrument. Computers exhaust kid’s brains, and music software does, too.
And kids get bored very quickly with music and piano software, as they have told me many times. Never forget a parent’s first mission is to find a way for their kids to love the piano in their own way. Once your child loves the piano, anything is possible.