Teaching Methods And Learning Goals

Piano lessonsMusic teachers usually fall into two camps, classical and flexible. The first type of teacher expects students to follow Royal Conservatory programs all the way through their musical education and will not veer from this plan. Her program is rigid and expectations upon students are equally firm: master the classics before trying to tackle any other genre. The latter sort of teacher, a flexible one, wishes to inspire students to achieve their personal goals and fosters a love of music and song from the heart, not by the book. She might also teach classical piano but offer alternative methods of teaching as well.

Your Goals

As the parent of a young music student, it is important to determine early on what you expect from your child. If you are trying to vicariously live out unfulfilled dreams through your youngster, take a step back and reassess. This is likely to lead to a lot of friction and turn a student off of piano lessons in the long run.

How much time does little Jimmy or Jenny have for daily practice on top of everything else going on at school or after school, such as sports? Will encouraging your child to practice become much like pushing him or her to complete chores, leading to regular fights and fits of temper?

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Ask yourself why you want a child to take piano. It could be as a means of supporting learning overall. Experts make connections between reading music and excelling in mathematics, for instance. I wasn't good at either; rather, I preferred (and still do) to play by ear.

A Child's Goals

Maybe a child is taking the lead, asking for lessons because of an innate interest in piano and music generally. Perhaps a son or daughter showed anĀ aptitude during the very early years and it would be a shame not to tap into it. Fortunately, my parents did see this in me, and encouraged me to learn. I'm grateful for that today, because I still love it!

Then again, a lot of kids just want to be rock stars. After seeing a favorite singer on the TV warbling and playing, a desire to learn how to play keyboard bubbles up. This desire might fade quickly too, especially if the child is sent to a classical teacher and not encouraged to learn how to play rock-and-roll. A relaxed individual might go along with a student's interests.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Getting a child to attend lessons might be no problem, but what about practice? It's the rare child who is so self-motivated and self-disciplined that she sits down to the piano every day for half an hour or more to work diligently through a week of exercises. Are you prepared to be the task-master, insisting that a student finish practicing Junior'sĀ lessons before dessert or screen time? This could become more hassle than you imagined. From someone who has been there, I can tell you that this can be a true issue.

Costs of Playing and Quitting

Moreover, if the price of piano lessons is high and so is the stress from dealing with a resistant child, consider whether this is the right direction to take. Overall, however, adults who took lessons but stopped when it became difficult wished they had been encouraged and even pushed to continue through this hurdle. They regret not getting further with their studies and wish they could now play in their spare time for pleasure and relaxation.

Be prepared for bad days and find ways to get through them. Every worthwhile goal poses challenges. And, of course elsewhere on this site, you'll see where I've talked about alternatives to the historical way we learned in the past.