Your piano teacher says you’re not doing well
This is a student who wants progress. He/she is an older student, teen or adult, who is not content to learn lots of beginner level repertoire. Who comes to class having put a lot of effort into what is currently being worked on. But this student isn’t doing well at all.
Because, daily practise of anything other than the latest new piece or concept is sketchy, this student hasn’t actually mastered any of what has been taught in earlier lessons.
Pull out ANY of the earlier pieces – pieces which have just been worked on and it’s like starting from scratch. Because the idea of practising more than one or two pieces a day is alien to this student.
If this poor practiser is an adult, then it’s often best to discontinue solo piano lessons, and ask the student to resume, when practise is possible. Another excellent alternative, is group piano lessons. Because having other students for company can motivate this adult to practise.
With older children and teens, what usually determines whether students stop or continue piano lessons is whether the parent gets involved, monitors the practise chart and makes sure homework is done.
The mistake parents often make here, is that they take over making the chart, and marking it. Parents, your role is to MONITOR. Your teen needs to prepare his/her own practise chart and your role is to keep an eye with daily checks at first, to ensure that practise is being done. What you are doing here is giving your teen a tool (the chart) and teaching him/her to use is – with supervision at first, gradually letting go until your teen just needs occasional checks.
This student will develop serious confidence issues if the piano teacher doesn’t get to the root of the problem. This often happens in reality, because this student often insists that practise is being done and teachers only get to the truth when they ask detailed questions, as many of these students often forget to fill in their practise charts.
Solo piano lessons only work when students practise :
- All homework with the required repetition,
- Daily – 5 days a week with 2 non-consecutive breaks,
- Using the practise method or technique that has been taught in piano class.
Students who do well often play pieces outside of their practise homework. They excel, because they explore music outside of their homework, just for fun. And that really, is where piano lessons should lead. It’s what motivates me to teach.
The biggest practise mistake a piano student can make is pretending that ‘not practising’ is ok and calling erratic and incomplete work practise. A student needs to be truthful to him/herself in order to progress in piano class.