A Piano Teacher's Emotions
Lesson 16: A Piano Teacher’s Emotions
Piano teachers have emotions, too, just like their students. They have good days and bad days, days when they are sick or tired, and days when the idea of piano doesn’t really summon up any enthusiasm. Working with kids all day, some as young as four years old, can be frustrating. The first thing you need know about kids is that they are more human than adults. They hurt more easily, and have almost no patience.
Find What The Child Can Do Easily
Since a piano teacher’s real job is to build confidence at the piano, it would be wise to limit the first steps to those that the teacher is certain the student can easily perform. A child overwhelmed by difficult tasks is a ripe candidate for frustration and then disinterest. And, emotionally, such a child is fragile, for they feel confused and the teacher may add insult to injury by being gruff or impatient with the child’s repeated fumbling. A teacher may be a serious musician or have a serious appreciation for real music making, and thus unconsciously feel impatient with the child’s progress.
Fit The Method To The Child
Many teachers use state piano association lesson plans, and groom children for recitals and competition using their criteria. Their thinking becomes geared to these hurdle-jumping activities, rather than making a real assessment of the individual child’s prospects, needs and rights. So if you feel frustrated, it’s understandable. If you feel impatient, we all sympathize. But if you show either of these emotions to the child you are, in essence, punishing them for your own method’s shortcomings.
Guilt And Shame Are Useless
Experience has taught me that guilt is the cheapest way to buy a child’s cooperation at the piano. If you are patient and buy their attention through cleverness, you will both feel better about it.
So when a child keeps making a certain mistake, I see it as a challenge. I pull back, sigh, laugh, and try to figure out what it is about this musical concept that causes them such problems. My reaction is always a laugh or a whisper or light sarcasm. The child generally knows they made a mistake, so why belabor it and ruin a good mood by doing anything other than laughing and saying “Oops?” Have the wisdom to be enough of an actor to not show negative emotions.
All Fun, No Anger
With a fun approach, the child will begin to trust you, and you can enter their mental space and see what can be taught. Forcing the child to come over to your mental space, or piano method, or whatever training and dogma you may be carting around, is a foolish mistake. It flies in the face of common-sense child psychology.
From a child’s point of view, considering the physical and mental difficulties of the piano, there is no reason for an adult to be anything other than patient, forgiving, and persistent.
COURSE ONE: TEACHING TOOLS
COURSE TWO: TEACHING BACKGROUND
COURSE THREE: PIANO GAMES