What piano teachers don’t want you to do is to shop around. Teaching piano is a very specific skill, and finding the right teacher is difficult at best. But from your point of view, you want as many choices as possible to find the piano teacher who fits your child.
When first shopping for a piano teacher, most parents are beginners, and they tend to fall for a few sales tricks that piano teachers use.
For example, many piano teachers insist that you sign up for a certain period. The reason for this is that it takes time to produce results, and the teacher needs that time.
However, a lengthy agreement, or any agreement at all, is not in the parent’s interests. The reason for this is that, until you have actually had your child experience a half hour with this person, it is all a mystery and you should agree to nothing.
By this I mean that you need to see your child’s reaction to the lessons before you commit any further. If your child loves it, perhaps you have found a winner in your new piano teacher. But if your child is uncomfortable in any way, you should look closely at the reasons.
Almost all piano teachers, unless they specialize in young kids, are dogmatists, who teach the way they were taught, and expect the same from their students. They’re perfectly at home with the concept of your child failing their method, for many, many do. The reason they teach this way is that it is easier for them, going from one page to the next in a text, rather than stimulating the individual child’s imagination.
Ask your neighbors and friends at the PTA about their experience with piano lessons. It’s almost universally bad news.
But there are creative teachers out there, for to some musicians there is nothing drearier than a half hour watching little Freddy misunderstanding the minutiae of musical notation. So they invent ways to get the child to play at their own speed, at their own rate.
These are the teachers you will need to seek out for your child.
Here’s how to find them:
Find, say, five local piano teachers. Arrange for a single lesson with each of them. If they refuse to audition for you, discard them and choose another more reasonable person.
Then go to each lesson, scheduled, say, once a week to space it out, and find out how your child likes it.
By exposing the child to five different methods and manners, you will find someone who the child responds to. That is the choice you should try.
Children, as we all know, are excellent barometers of people, and sense whether or not a person is sympathetic in about 2 seconds.
I’m not saying you should let the child be the ONLY judge of teachers, but their feelings are about 99% of your recipe for success.
If you sign up with that teacher, here are further things to watch out for.
Even the best piano teachers have huge amounts of material they have to teach, and thus are often in a hurry. Find someone with the most relaxed possible approach towards everything from fingering to practicing.
I don’t mean to select someone with no musical skills, I mean to select someone with BOTH musical skill AND a knowledge of children, human nature and coaching. A pedant is not what you want.
You want a common sense coach who will start your child on a life-long, individualized experience with the piano, according to the child’s current abilities.
Don’t take a lesson time that makes you stressed, such as one on a day you have to travel far, or a very busy day. Better to find a teacher who can come to your home or has a more flexible schedule.
What piano teachers don’t want you to know is that you always have the choice of a better teacher, one more suited to your child. You just have to find them.
The problem is finding that teacher, a difficult task in remote areas and even some urban ones.
No piano teacher is better than the wrong one.
Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press
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