Learning piano is not an easy process and most of the students quit on the way, sooner or later.
I’m sure you do your best trying to improve your teaching every day, training yourself to have more patience and trying to get under your student’s skin, but sometimes (actually most of the times) if it doesn’t come from within, it is not enough.
As a junior teacher, I’ve had my share of disappointments when my students quit and many times this happened with some of my dear ones. Even though they enjoyed coming to my classes and felt sorry for leaving, realizing piano is such hard work made them decide to leave for good.
One day I sat down and decided I had to come with something really game changing, as the days when more students left at the same time left me exhausted trying to replace them with new ones. Not to mention the sorrow to see them leave - and I’m sure you know quite well how it feels.
I once taught ‘The Music Class’ and my very first idea was to actually improve the way I play with the children. I used to play with them before, of course - but this resumed only to colourful cards, charts or drawings, finger puppets or making them laugh. It wasn’t enough!
If you were taught piano in a conservatory way you will probably look away, like I did at first reading the articles that were advising me to do so. The truth is you have to really sit down and play games with the children and I am not talking about playing only AT the piano.
For example, challenge them to find a hidden treasure in the room (this could be anything: your pen, your cup of coffee, a shiny ball etc.). While they play parts of their music sheet, once something is done the right way, let them take a few steps through the room and mark the spot where they got. Ask them to sit down again and play the next parts - and then repeat the whole process, taking a few steps farther, until you eventually guide them to the treasure.
They will love it and forget they have to repeat those notes over and over!
Here are a few good ideas to keep your students in your studio - ours love them and let me tell you that our studio manages now to keep a high rate of 90% in classes:
1.Take ideas from the kindergarten/preschool teachers, as many as you possibly can and convert them into musical games, using music information (notes recognition, notes length, rhythm recognition, keys etc.)
This game, for example, is brilliant (and if you check this website you will find it absolutely wonderful): http://www.eartrainingandimprov.com/resources/icecream.pdf
It saved me a lot of times in situations with little children who didn’t have patience or with shy kids who instantly became receptive only to build that tasty ice-cream!
2. I know music reading is very important to you, but forget that once in a while - and teach them a song they really like, by heart (children have a few common favourites, like Pirates of the Caribbean or Frozen soundtrack, it won’t be difficult)
You won’t miss with this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhhwfAa6raM
3. Change your note cards and music notation charts with new ones similar to those they use in school
You will have a surprise that they learn easier using patterns they know already from school (like drawing a line from a note to the correct answer etc.).
4. Keep group lessons once in a while - children will be more motivated and they will inspire one another to play better and know more
Play musical games in group lessons (like musical statues or musical chairs) and teach them songs by heart
5. If you are teaching adults, take them with you when someone famous is in town or out for a jazzy night, they will love it
Wait for them with a friendly atmosphere and a smile, even if you are tired, usually when they finally get to you they are after a hard day at work - and remember this is one of the reasons they chose piano, to escape from daily routine.
These ideas will make your work, also, much more easier and will not feel so tired at the end of the day.
In 2014, some time after introducing this new style of teaching, we launched a project called ‘Music Land’, a music software for playing piano. It brings together a lot of ideas from our teaching method and you might want to take a look.
READ MORE ON OUR WEBSITE
This is the first of a series of articles that we plan to share with the other teachers, with the parents who have kids taking piano classes and with the adults joining piano studios, so they can have a better understanding of what is happening in the piano class.
Disclaimer: ‘Music Land’ is a registered mark in Romania only. We are in the process of changing the software name for international use. For further inquiries feel free to contact us be email: email@example.com