Here are ten of the worst mistakes I have seen piano teachers make. Try to avoid these:
Ignore the child’s mood that day.
Do not engage them on their level. You are an adult and must remain painfully so during the entire lesson.
Do not attempt to befriend your students in any way. You must remain professional, aloof and analytical at all times.
Move quickly from one complicated idea to another. Assume that children have your attention span and interest.
Never use music children know or have heard. Use dull exercise pieces to dull their desire to participate in music making.
Repeat everything a million times with very little comment. Make repetition a task akin to digging ditches.
Teach only about reading music.
Never try new ideas or songs or techniques. Whatever worked in 1835 must work now.
Do not alter the agenda you devised for today, even if an opening for further interest presents itself. What matters is the teacher’s agenda, not the student’s capacity for learning on that day.
Try not to praise a child too much. It spoils them.
- Here is how to do the opposite:
Before you do anything, see what mood the child is in. Act accordingly.
Become a child with them, if you have to, in order to reach their mental space. You can’t really do anything until you enter their space.
Befriend them and do not be a stern taskmaster. The time wasted in friendship will be more than made up for in cooperation.
Move at the child’s level at all times. If that means a month to figure out securely where Middle C is, so be it.
Always use familiar music to illustrate any concept. Each recognizable song a child learns and can play for others acts as a calling card that says proudly, “I can play songs everyone knows.” This will make them want to learn more.
Disguise all repetition as a game.
Teach reading music in equal parts with playing by ear and learning about chords.
Keep your eye out for new songs, or techniques. Take the time to find out what songs kids in your age group are listening to.
If a child asks a question about chords, for example, drop everything and explore that area of interest. Music as a curriculum is rather circular: one can enter and exit anywhere without harm, since there is so much to learn.
Praise a child for every correct move and thought.
Children live for the praise of an adult, and when genuinely bestowed praise inspires further interest and effort.
Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press