Remembering your childhood piano lessons may give you some idea of what your children are going through now with their own piano lessons.
A frequent subject of conversation with parents is their own childhood experiences with piano lessons.
It’s very interesting how similar their feelings are, and what a common thing it is to have had an awful experience with piano lessons.
Almost all parents reply in the same way: “I hated it. I was forced to take lessons and practice.” Some tell tales of knuckle rapping and mean teachers. Others had great teachers and admit they were kids and didn’t pay attention.
I then ask, “Do you play today?” They always reply, “No, I have such terrible memories of piano lessons.” Only a very few retain positive memories.
I ask why they want their child to learn piano, given their own negative experiences. They always reply, “Well, I heard about you, and wanted to see if I could have my child enjoy playing the piano.”
What really astounds me is that memories can have such an effect, all the way from childhood to the present.
Thus, what a piano teacher is giving a child, in truth, is memories of playing the piano. And, depending on that teacher’s attitude, those memories can be positive or negative.
Consciously or not, what I do in lessons is create positive memories and impressions. I never care exactly how much material a child learns. I care that something, no matter how small, has been learned and that their desire to learn music is not diminished, and hopefully increased.
Your piano teacher’s moment of short temper, repeated over and over, becomes a child’s memory of the piano. Since the teacher’s temper was caused by the child’s failure, why doesn’t the teacher let go and embrace their failure, and try to find out what really caused it?
If you look at it very carefully, you will find that it is the piano teacher’s rigid method that gets in the child’s way.
Find a piano method that suits the child. If that method is nothing, no method at all, be clever enough to disguise that “nothing” as something exciting to the child.
Think of the child in the future tense: someday they will look back and decide to play the piano again, if their memories of it are happy enough.
Resolve to make their memories of the piano be emotionally positive.
Better to create a hobbyist 30 years in the future than fume over your piano method and make a child hate the piano because of it.
Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press
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