How simple should kids piano lessons be? How low do you set the bar?
If you're even asking this question, you are in danger of making kids piano lessons too hard, with the bar set impossibly high.
I'll tell you who should set the height of the bar: the child.
You'll never go wrong in a child's piano lesson if you unflaggingly watch the child and see what they can learn happily. Push any farther and you are wasting your breath and the child's time, not to mention their parent's money.
It's not hard to try to get a child to live up to YOUR expectations. Try it for ten minutes and you will have a frustrated child.
Why? The child is expecting musical fun, and you deliver theoretical drudgery.
So what are the child's expectations for their piano lessons?
First of all, a child is used to a certain amount of drudgery in the schoolroom. Piano lessons are an elective activity, usually after school. The child is not expecting a circus, but they have had enough pressure for today in school.
Pressure won't work. What will work is a friendly hand guiding them in a fun activity.
Children have to be shown how to enjoy learning the piano.
No matter how inattentive, ill-tempered and unfocused a child is when they walk into my piano lessons, I manage to find a way to bring them around. Every single time.
If they are ready for work, we work. If they are ready for play, we play.
I have never asked a child if they have practiced or not. I know the likely answer.
The only thing I ask of myself is that the child leaves the room having tried to play, and maybe has an idea they might try it a little on their own this week.
The most magical aspect of this "simple" approach to kids piano lessons is that students often work on what we did in the lesson, and it shows the next week.
If there is no progress, I never react. My negative reaction is simply irrelevant.
I keep serving up what the kids are willing to digest, and, little by little, progress appears at the child's own, leisurely, non-pressured pace.
I'd rather wait patiently for a child to progress at the piano than rush them with my idea of accomplishment.
All kids try as hard as they can as long as they are interested in the subject, and it is being presented to them in a palatable way.
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