Bend Backwards To Teach Piano

Being Flexible and Thinking on Your Feet are Keys to Being a Good Piano Teacher

As a piano teacher, having a curriculum you believe in is important to your teaching. Equally important is being able to see outside the box of that curriculum and think of a plan B when something might not be coming across in a lesson that needs to be taught!

The Paradox of Teaching Piano

It is hard to give concrete steps to “thinking on your feet” since those two things seem to be paradoxical to each other. I will therefore use a practical example to get the point across.
One of the basic concepts to teach beginners on piano is that the piano is set up in patters. For example, two black keys, then three black keys, then two black, three black, so on and so on. Seems simple, and the student will easily put three fingers on the group of three black keys. But what if they don’t? What if they attach the set of two black keys to one of the keys in the three black set? You have to come up with some other way of communicating how to explain what you are trying to get across. Couple things to try with this particular road block:

  1. Name the three black keys a set of siblings the students knows (possibly their own siblings) They call out those names as they play the three black keys, and then two other names as they play the two black keys. It is connecting the auditory with the visual
  2. Have the student count in the pattern of 1-2-3 and 1-2. Then put fingers to the piano, counting 1-2-3 and 1-2 lining up the appropriate count with the appropriate grouping of keys.

Tips and Tricks to Teaching Piano

While this seems like such a basic concept to those who have played piano, it might not be so apparent to a 5 year old. If that is the case, you must be flexible and create your own way of explaining the point that your lesson plan has dictated you need to cover for the day!
While coming up with something to address this particular problem off the cuff at a lesson can be difficult, the good news is that once you solve this problem with a fun game, saying, riddle, etc. you have it in your bag of tricks from here on out. Another student on another day will probably have a struggle similar to this one, and every time you are flexible and creative and come up with a solution, it is one more added to your teaching repertoire. Building up that teaching repertoire is as important as having your student achieve repertoire pieces themselves.

Be creative, even within the confines of a good lesson plan and equally good curriculum!

teaching piano

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