Pleasant Piano Lesson Atmosphere


A child attends a piano lesson because Mom says so. Children are generally ready for anything, but if you present them with drudgery, they will undergo it grudgingly, and little of what is absorbed will be retained.

On the other hand, if you maintain a light and comical atmosphere, the child will instinctively reward the teacher with better attention.

A child will work much faster and better with a congenial teacher who engages them and treats them like a person rather than as a lowly unit of student-dom.

There’s no doubt that learning the piano requires attention. One must attend to the page, the keyboard, the hand and the fingers just to keep the basic motions going.

And attention can be hard for a little child to muster up whenever you command. They can give you SOME concentration, but will it be today, Thursday at 3:37, when you demand it?

And will you, as a teacher, know what level of attention to settle for and know how to nurture that attention into a few minutes of solid, memorable study?

Some children are naturally quiet and calm, and are thus are easy to show the rudiments of piano if the teacher is willing to guide them slowly enough through the dense maze that is music theory.

One way I maintain a calm atmosphere is to constantly review basic elements as you go at the child’s pace. For example, suppose a song involves the child finding Middle C, but they seem uncertain of where Middle C is.

I don’t tell the child, but clearly the song we are going to play requires knowledge of Middle C. So, without drawing attention to it, I digress and make sure they know where Middle C is using any set of silly games.

Then, when we return to the song with the Middle C, they are prepared to find it easily after a couple of tries.

The most essential point here is to observe the child closely during the act of reading music. You must find the point at which they can take no more, and then walk away from it and play a game.

In terms of proportion, reading music and other stress-inducing activities should be pursued about a third or less of the allotted lesson time.

It’s better to take a simple concept and see if that can be absorbed that day. Then, the next time perhaps they will remember that concept. If not, introduce it again as if you had never done it before. The point is to make them remember the concept, not the fact that they had failed at it previously.

Avoid the feeling of failure at all costs. It ruins the learning atmosphere. If the child fails to learn something either because of behavior or lack of skills, ignore the failure and try again later with no reference to the failure. Sooner or later, the idea you are trying to teach will sink in, and you can build on that idea with another.

Mask work as play, and play with zest in between the work.

A smile will get far more from child than a frown, at least in a one-on-one situation like a piano lesson.

Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press

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