A visual approach to children’s piano lessons is almost always assured of success. Kids can play music far harder than what they can read on a page.
There is one sure-fire way of getting kids interested in the piano: get them involved in learning the piano by eye and by ear.
Reading music off a page short circuits the enjoyment factor for children who have never played before.
In fact, it takes a long time, decades for many amateurs, before anything approaching “pleasure” is derived from reading music. Disregarding this fact always leads to disaster. You cannot rush a child into reading music.
You can rush them into playing music, and they will cooperate willingly, but try rushing reading music and you will have a fight on your hands.
Music is pleasurable at the keyboard level first, not at the intellectual level of notation games.
Play first, read music later. It’s not hard to do, especially for an intelligent child.
When was the last time you took “pleasure” in finding information in the phone book? That’s how mundane reading music is to kids.
But children are naturally visual. Presenting songs in a visual way, to be memorized, is the quickest way into the child’s budding musical imagination.
Before you begin, make sure you have found a song that truly interests the child.
You may have to go through a bit of question and answer and show and tell before you arrive at the right choice.
If you do not arrive at a song for which the child expresses enthusiasm, you will have an uphill slog on your hands. Find the right song, and the child will work with enthusiasm.
Begin by dividing the song into tiny bits, perhaps three or four notes at a time, right hand only. Devise games that repeat that little part, and hammer it home without being robotic.
Within a few minutes the child will have enough “parts” of the song to allow a version of their own to be played. Allow them to use one finger, both hands, any combination that occurs to them.
You will be amazed at what occurs to them with just a little bit of suggestion.
You’re really getting them to use their ingenuity at the keyboard, and applauding them for it.
Don’t criticize fingering or anything else except the notes. Define your battle as getting the child to know the sequence of tones that make up the song.
Once they get that, anything else is easy to add.
Most piano teachers make the mistake of piling one concept on top of another, until the child is completely overloaded.
Less is more.
Don’t be distracted by further refinements unless the child shows interest in such additions. Present them, but back off if the child seems confused. If they’re perfectly happy playing the song with one finger perfectly, so be it for now.
Many times, if you are observant, you will see that children’s confusion at the piano stems from not looking at the keys and their fingers in order to understand the physical motion.
As soon as you show the child how to move, they will be able to imitate you to some degree, depending of course on the difficulty of the move.
This visual method is far less stressful to a child than the usual method of trying to jam the entire musical experience through the little dots on the page.
Copyright 2012 Walden Pond Press