There are a lot of different methods and tools out there you can use to help your child improve their piano skills. One method many piano teachers use that parents may not be aware of is the problem list. This tool can be very helpful for students since it helps them recognize and deal with problem areas in their playing. Once they understand what they’re having difficulty with, your child will be able to practice in those areas and overcome them.
A Word of Caution About this Method
One thing to keep in mind is that you do have to be careful with focusing solely on these negatives. Great teachers know how to balance out creating a problem list with keeping their students’ self-esteem up and making sure they know that they also know what they’re doing right during private piano lessons. If you only talk to your child about what they’re doing wrong, they may lose their love for the piano.
Making the Problem List
The first thing you, your child, and their teacher can do to make use of this method is to create the problem list. Your child and their teacher will likely already have things to put on this list. They may already have a list started, even if it’s not a physical list. Your child knows what they’re struggling with, and their teacher will likely have some ideas as well.
You can also make your own list. Listen to your child while the play and take note of areas they’re having difficulty with. Again, you don’t want to be too harsh or nitpick. Make a list of three or four items, not a list of a dozen. Pick the things they seem to be struggling with the most or that are the most fundamental.
Revise the List as They Learn
As your student overcomes some of the issues they’re having, you can take them off the list. However, as they learn new things or start on new songs, you may need to add an item or two. Regularly sit down with your child and their teacher and revise the list so it remains current.
Checking Items Off the List
Once you’ve made the problem list, how does your child use it? There are a few ways this list will be helpful to their piano skills.
First, it gives them direction. They know exactly what areas they need to work on. If it this is something basic, they can work on that skill until they’ve mastered it. If it’s part of a song, they can focus on practicing that part of the song.
Second, since they have identified the problem, they can start to break it down into its component parts. For example, if your child is having difficulty with a particular part of a beginner piano song, they can look at what notes are tripping them up, what it is about those notes that is difficult, and how they can go about overcoming the problem.
Third, after identifying the problem area of a song, your child needs to put it into context. They can play the section right before and right after the area to help see how it fits into the overall piece of music. Once they’re comfortable with this, they can expand how much of the piece they play. For example, they could play the entire page of sheet music, then move on to plaything through the entire song.
Finally, you need to help your child stay disciplined. They shouldn’t remove something from the list until they truly feel comfortable with it and aren’t making the same mistakes over and over. This may take days or weeks, but that’s okay. There’s no rush.
You Need the Right Teacher
Your child’s piano progress truly depends on having the right teacher. That’s why we work hard to find the best instructors. Our teachers will come right to your home for every lesson, plus we offer virtual music lessons, too. However, our online music lessons are being taught by local music teachers with live lessons tailored to your child! If you want to learn more, contact us today.