There are certain piano toys that you should bring to a lesson to make the time a little brighter, to set the mood of the lesson.
We’re not talking about music books, or your metronome.
Here are a few items that a creative piano teacher should keep with them to make piano lessons for children entertaining.
You never know when the child will melt down, be tired or half-sick.
You have to be prepared for anything.
I use a small library bell such as one sees in hotels to summon a bellboy.
Kids seem to love the tone of the bell, and it is a great device to punctuate the lesson. It’s just human nature for a kid to want to ring a bell.
I use it after every song or task they complete correctly. I ring it at first, and then offer them control of the bell, which, of course, leads to chaos. Let it. When the dust settles, let them ring the bell after a completed task. They will ring it 100 times. Endure it and smile, because that means they are enjoying their time at the piano today.
Sometimes, when we are in a good mood, I play piano, and the child plays the bell, but I make up elaborate bell parts for them, and you have never seen a kid try so hard to play a humble library bell exactly right. It’s only got one button, right?
Make up a story about a fantasy character that lives in the bell, and how he wants to play piano and only has a bell to play. This isn’t a drama lesson, but the point is to enliven the lesson with fantasy and play in between the rather hard work of reading music.
It isn’t difficult to maneuver a piano lesson into the realm of play if the teacher is willing to be flexible moment to moment. The benefits for a child of this less apparently strict attitude are nothing short of miraculous.
You’ll discover that behavior problems simply don’t exist, because you as the teacher are always one step ahead of them, finding a way to make learning exciting and fun, on their level.
A child who is having fun is, by definition, paying attention.
A child who is depressed and uninterested is almost impossible to teach the piano.
In such a case, I immediately give in and say, “I’m not in the mood, either. What shall we do?”
They are always surprised. What teacher ever asked you if you felt like learning that day? Just asking the question releases the child from the implied servitude of education, and raises the level of emotion to play, where anything is possible.
Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press
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