Piano teachers teaching in localities where interest in piano lessons is just developing often encounter a lot of students who have an examination mindset. With many, this mindset can be so fixed, that these students will not practise anything unless it is clearly evident that it is part of an examination syllabus.
Many piano teachers here in Navi Mumbai work with students where examination goals are the only motivating factor for learning. Until achievement changes things and makes the student start to love practising. Students here in India LOVE examinations, so it works really well with most. Unless there’s a goal mismatch.
A goal mismatch is when the examination oriented student wants to achieve high goals, but doesn’t enjoy the learning process that is needed for this to happen.
A goal mismatch can lead to a lot of student-teacher discord, because the students feelings are in conflict with his/her goals. Continue reading 3 Steps To Preventing A Goal Mismatch In Piano Class
PS : TOG & SEP are my short-forms for playing hands together and hands separately.
Sight reading a new piece it’s always TOG,
Bit by bit else you’ll have to slog.
Go through the motions on days that it’s tough,
Because small bits of practise will make smooth out of rough.
Continue reading How to learn a new piano piece
Families new to piano lessons can find the search for a new piano teacher quite confusing. I write this post to help these parents and students who have difficulty assessing which piano teacher or lesson format is the best for them.
Your child’s first piano teacher will set the foundations of his/her musical growth. The quality of learning at beginner level is important, as it determines whether the student will stay motivated enough to continue learning more. Continue reading 5 Thoughts to help you find the Piano Teacher that’s best for YOU
The changing face of piano lessons
My early years as a piano teacher were about teaching music. My young students got music concepts easily. They ran rings around me those first few years, until I had enough teaching experience. Because they could remember what was taught even without practise and I’d get fooled into thinking they’d done their work!
They were flexible thinkers and asked questions when they couldn’t understand. I had a few students with learning issues later, and I wrote a post about them – ‘Coping with the overscheduled child in piano class’. But mostly, it was just about teaching music.
It’s so very different these days, as a lot of beginner level piano teachers now need to be skilled in remedial teaching. Because the percentage of children who struggle with learning and comprehension grows each year. Teachers in different parts of the world often notice the same trend. Continue reading Remedial teaching in piano lessons
Brain gym in piano class
Playing the piano needs different parts of the brain to work together simultaneously.
Young piano students in their first year learn to :
- Read written music and play the correct pitch & rhythm, at a steady pace with an appropriate tempo.
- Play soft, loud, legato (joining the notes) or staccato (with notes detached).
- Sing so they learn phrasing, and can identify mistakes in pitch.
- Listen and hear what’s good and what needs to be worked on.
- Accept correction even when their work is excellent. This is because standards of achievement need to move higher over time, for progress.
- Practise on their own at home with parent support, growing more independent as they grow up.
Continue reading What young beginners learn in piano class
This post talks about piano posture, what to consider when buying a piano bench & where the Indian student can find piano benches to suit different budgets. Plus an easy low-budget solution for a low piano bench. Continue reading A guide to buying a suitable piano bench
The piano practise conflict.
Many diligent students who practise daily get stuck and don’t do well. Here’s what often happens to them.
Practising daily = Discipline,
Discipline = Rigid practise routines = Practise as a duty rather than a joy,
Practise without joy = Stress and tension which causes tight hands and shoulders, leading to bad playing technique.
It’s the exact opposite of the piano teachers goal, which is for the student to be relaxed and creative during piano practise time.
Scheduling for creative practise
The way piano practise is scheduled matters. My years of teaching and talking about how good practise scheduling helps students practise creatively, has taught me that parents & students of all ages often just don’t realise this.
- Cultural attitudes here in India that value hard work can often make parents praise piano students who slog unnecessarily. Even when this slogging creates stress and bad technique and the student bangs on the piano keys, sometimes leading to pain and injury.
- Many new to piano playing can’t hear the difference between banging and playing the right way.
- Many are ignorant about repetitive stress injury and why good playing technique is important. And I’ve seen a few foolish students who felt playing through injury was a sign of passion for music and was a badge of honour.
The truth is, relaxed piano students do better, learn faster & often just ‘get’ things that other students struggle to achieve. And the way practise is scheduled is important as it has a huge impact on whether a piano student plays out of duty or for joy.
Here’s 7 Scheduling Tips that make daily piano practise relaxed, creative and effective
- 2 or 3 small practise slots are better than a single slot because students are more attentive after a break.
- Schedule longer slots than required. Students need time to relax between activities and may come to the piano late, then get so involved that they want to stay and play longer.
- Schedule an extra slot, so piano students have a choice when they’re not in the mood at the same time each day
- Creativity grows from having time and mental space, and piano students sometimes need to sit around, idle before and after practise time. This time helps their mind absorb any innovative or creative moments during their practise, and retain it for the next session.
- Piano students need to explore their instrument on their own, outside of what is taught in class. It’s not wasting time, but rather, it’s a student using knowledge gained in piano class & piano practise, to explore his/her innate ability. It’s wonderful when this happens!
- Schedule practise holidays : One or two days each week (not consecutive days). Plus 3 consecutive days each month.
- On busy days, a little is better than nothing. Play, rather than practise, if there’s no time. Even 2 minutes with a section of a piece you enjoy.
- Don’t just schedule practise, make time to PLAY. Play your favourite pieces at the end of the day. Or play a line of music you like – just a minute in between some other activity. Play to relax, because that’s what learning the piano is about.
The importance of the practise holiday
Practise holidays are essential and diligent students often come back from practise breaks, playing better. Scheduling the break tells the student that there’s some leeway in their routine. And gives students days when they can just ‘BE’ and use practise time to do something different without guilt. These breaks in the practise routine are very important for creativity.
Piano practise is a very solitary occupation and practise holidays let the student have a little leeway and choose their routine. As do the scheduling suggestions in points above.
It’s that element of choice that brings freedom, creativity and passion to discipline of daily practise.