If you try to teach piano to your children, you are in a tiny minority of parents.
Most parents do not teach their own children the piano.
The reason for this is that it is difficult to maintain a certain distance that teaching requires. Piano teaching requires the simultaneous skills of both the game-show host and the drill sergeant
It may be too easy for the relationship to instantly return to that of parent-child, making the kind of guidance that piano teaching requires almost impossible.
That is, unless discipline can be de-emphasized, as I believe it should be for children’s piano lessons.
A piano teacher who relies on discipline alone to get attention is on a slippery slope. Eventually, the naturally boisterous nature of children will interfere with the disciplined approach that almost all piano teachers use. When this happens, there is conflict, then guilt, and finally, apathy.
So if your approach can be made into a friendly exploration of the piano, a parent may be a perfect first piano teacher. This friendly approach is more appropriate for children, anyway, than the gruff, serious demeanor of most conventional piano teachers.
Piano by Number makes this approach natural and easy. There is no stress about reading music, because we delay its introduction until the child is happily playing dozens of simple, familiar songs at the piano.
Center your method on playing songs, and learning them visually. Mary Had A Little Lamb, for example, has an easily grasped profile:
Mary Had A Little Lamb
3 2 1 2 3 3 3 2 2 2 3 5 5
The first bar (3 2 1 2 ) has an easily explained motion. Start on the key numbered three, walk down to the key numbered one, and then back up to three. This is more a recipe for a game than a piano lesson, and yet, in a child-friendly way, it teaches almost the same thing.
You will find the child easily navigates these directions, and shows a rise in self-esteem as a result of playing a song they know. You can surely proceed further on the basis of this easily acquired success.
In between learning as many songs as possible, you can play counting games and other games that increase their familiarity with the piano keyboard.
Plan each session for fifteen minutes or so, but do not stick to it. I use the child’s interest level as my guide; as long as the child is interested, the lesson should continue.
I always ask, “Has your brain had enough?” If they say, yes, then we stop. I might try to stretch it a minute or two, usually by asking them to play a song they particularly enjoyed.
The advantage of allowing the child to call the lesson’s end is that the next lesson and all lessons will go for as long as the child finds enjoyable. The child’s memory is of fun, and not drudgery, and so they will be ready and willing to take the next.
The piano can only be learned over time, with repeated effort.
You will find a child responds better to 10 lessons of five minutes in length, than to one giant 50-minute lesson.
The strategy of fun in piano lesson is to assure your student’s return. Unless they do, their piano career is over.
It is really up to you and your approach, rather than the child and their talent.
With this approach, any child will eventually learn to play the piano, with a patient and fun enough teacher.
Expect less from any individual lesson, and make sure there’s a next lesson.
Lower the bar and raise their spirits.
Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press