Teaching piano to the children of today is not like teaching the children of 1900-1990. The influences and experiences of contemporary children are quite different from the age of John Thompson and John Schaum, famous American piano teachers who created print methods that endured for decades.
Some of the old texts are very useful, many of them are not.
But the courses in our curriculum are not dependent on any set of books or method. You can use any method you want.
What we provide is psychological training in how to effectively deal with children’s personalities and enhance their ability to absorb the art of the piano regardless of their abilities.
Lessons were used as a living laboratory to see what children actually could do comfortably at the piano.
Over many years of observation and experimentation various techniques were developed, all outside the realm of “conventional piano teaching,” that proved to have profound and beneficial effects in early piano lessons.
We observed what worked for children, what pace they set for learning and where their “comfort zone” was. The “comfort zone” is the place where children can produce simple music without the stress normally associated with “piano lessons.”
Many of the techniques described herein are presented in the form of piano games. The “game” is the primary unit of instruction with our “method.” Everything is expressed as a game.
Repetition must be disguised in some manner that counteracts the mind-numbing effect of rote practicing.
Some issues require careful observation of the child to find a way to unlock their abilities further. Other issues simply require a new attitude on the part of the teacher, usually one of extreme patience.
Patience is the prime capital of the children’s piano teacher. Many an impatient and impulsive piano teacher has destroyed a child’s desire to play piano with a single, ill-considered criticism. It is better to laugh at the mistake, take note of it for further study, but not let the child feel bad about it. An atmosphere of happy, game-like study is best.
In order to be an effective children’s piano teacher, you’ll need to be able to be rather theatrical. Adopt the manner of a good natured guest who has something interesting to tell. If they aren’t in the mood for your “story,” tell another.
A large part of successful piano teaching is constantly gauging the mood of the “contestant.” If you carefully observe a child at the piano, they will almost tell you what they are in the mood to learn. If it is nothing that they wish to learn, and that happens often, be clever enough to disguise a simple skill as “nothing.”
Follow the child’s mood. There is so much to learn from the piano that a clever teacher can start anywhere and still have the child come away from the lesson with some skill upon which another can be built.
Children’s piano requires a balance between fun and work, and the ability to disguise work as fun whenever possible.
by John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2014 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved
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