Reflections of a novice piano teacher

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This past week a very interesting topic came up during one of the lectures I attend.

Are the current piano teachers fulfilling  the demands of the parents/students when selecting material for lessons?

This was an interesting question fruit for thought among my peers as most of us are music educators.

It was a revelation for my lecturer as she has been teaching piano for decades and it made her question herself when parents thanked her for teaching a modern repertoire that they could related to.

What then has happened to the years of teaching classical music or grade level repertoire?

What is the main purpose of being a music educator anyway?

I was stumbled with this quandary yesterday when teaching a private student. This boy has excellent memory and wit but he is tortured (me included) when we’re following the pages of a method book which I think was very good. He constantly yawned for the first 15 minutes or so of the lesson and I was getting very impatient with him.

Prior to the class, I knew this was going to happen as I see a consistent lack of interest in the lessons for the past few weeks and I felt very upset that I could not engage this student. I decided that perhaps a familiar tune will perk his interest and quickly made a simple piano sheet on ‘Row, row, row your boat’.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat.png

Given that my student has a good grasp of the basics and he was also learning about intervals, I felt that this piece was sufficiently challenging for him.

After boring ourselves with the method book, I brought this sheet out and asked him if he knew the song. He was immediately familiar to the words and gave the piece a try. I am happy to report that this song encouraged him to sing a bit more than usual and he was even willing to play it several times.

I heaved a sigh of relieve as I was able to engage him without instructing him impatiently. I even asked him at the end of the lesson if he liked the piece more than the book and his reply was positive.

I reflect that one book cannot fit for all students even if I think the method book is the most engaging of all. Times has change and teachers have to adjust according to the demands. At the same time, we still can teach the lesson.


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