In my last blog on teaching better music lessons I introduced a few ideas to consider; eye contact, allow for movement, and concise instructions. Here are three more simple steps and to many of us, reminders, to being a good piano teacher.
This could be step one through ten!! In a piano lesson, remember to find positive comments for your student. There is always something you can find to praise. Maybe the notes were wrong, but the timing was great. Maybe they observed a rest. You might have to look harder on some days, but those are the days that positive reinforcement is even more important.
When speaking with a fellow piano teacher yesterday, Sarah Kurtz, I was reminded of the importance of this point. Sarah was telling me that the one teacher in her years of piano training, that really stood out to her was the teacher she had who seemed to always be positive. She said she never left lessons feeling defeated, but feeling like she wanted to do even better at her next lesson so she could get more of that positive feedback from her teacher. Guess what-now Sarah aspires to be that same kind of teacher. A piano teacher who makes lessons and music fun and positive.
It is easy, and sometimes absolutely necessary to point out the obvious mistakes, but remembering to put a positive spin on what we do in lessons will leave a lasting impact!
A Good Piano Teacher Is A Flexible Piano Teacher
Some days are great, and some days our students are struggling. Sometimes we don’t know what the struggles are, but as piano teachers, we have to adjust accordingly. Taking a break from what might be our normal routine and throwing in something fun, like a piano repeat game, or a quick note finder game, might be what the student needs. Go back to a really old song and have the student play it. So many times this is an instant confidence builder, and that boost of confidence can often turn the tide of a bad mood day. Having the insight to know when to flex a lesson plan is an important trait of a great teacher.
Be a Good Posture Example
As a piano teacher, we usually end up sitting next to our students-probably in a family chair, since we are teaching them piano lessons in their home. It is easy to sit back a relax in that chair. But, as an example to our students, let them see you sitting up straight and tall. As I tell my students, right before they start a scale, “good posture.” It might seem hypocritical if I’m lounging back about to yawn myself. Sit up and show how alert and engaged you are, even if sitting. And to add to that, feel free to stand up, in a cheering position when you do find that thing to praise and be positive about as I said in point number 1!!