Piano Lessons for Kids
Piano Lessons - Kids and music:
What should I look for in a teacher?
The most obvious point is that the teacher must be able relate to your child. The teacher's talent, knowledge, posh studio - none of this matters if they can't relate to kids.
Your job- Take time to get to know the teacher
Your child is certainly very precious to you. Would you trust them to just any doctor? No way! However, when I was teaching full-time, I was amazed, even shocked by the number of parents that simply dropped off their kids without ever spending any time with their kids at the lesson.
Whenever a parent would take the time to spend time with their child at a lesson, I was very honored, even felt like my job was more important because it was important to them. A good teacher will encourage parental involvement.
**However, there is some room here to say that after you get to know the teacher and their "relatability" to your child, the lessons might be more effective without you around!
The Teacher's job
Aside from being able to genuinely care about and relate to your child, a good piano teacher possesses certain skills:
Does your child's teacher branch out into many areas of musical learning? A good musician is a well-rounded musician, versed in reading notation, playing by ear, theory, technical excellence, composition, and performance.
- Musical Notation (reading music
from a page)
Most teachers cover this point. While this is an old part of music, it's very important. However, there are new techniques that are very effective.
Most importantly, a child should be able to recognize interval sizes on the page, as well as know the names of the notes on the staff. This will enable them to read very efficiently throughout life. A good book series emphasizing interval recognition is Alfred's piano method. Check it out!
- Playing by ear
This is a foundational point with Suzuki teachers. I'm going to go way out on a limb here, but although the Suzuki method is good in emphasizing ear training, the music is way boring! Now that's not the gospel truth, that's just my opinion.
Look for a teacher that incorporates fun music teaching playing by ear along with the reading of musical notation.
Theory is the study of how music is put together. This covers such aspects as building chords, scales, etc. I remember hating this section! But now I am so grateful that my teachers insisted on my understanding of music. A must in the study of music.
- Technical excellence
What is the level that your teacher holds your child to? Is the bar held high? If so, your child will find something in life that they can be proud of. If you find that your child is breezing through, maybe there needs to be more of a challenge.
Something special happens when your child expresses their own musical ideas. Additionally, this is an opportunity where the teacher can reinforce all other areas of teaching. (i.e. "What is that chord you are playing? Wow, it's fantastic sounding, let's figure out what it is...")
This is too often neglected. I've found that with the 7 piece vocal and instrumental group that I lead, we have to have a performance goal. Otherwise, we get sloppy and unmotivated.
Recitals are notorious for embarrassing kids, but they can be fantastic if the teacher has them often and makes a fun event out of them. If your teacher doesn't hold recitals, try and find another musical performance outlet for your child. Church, school, clubs, all great places for them to feel good about sharing their gift.
One final note:
Here's the one phrase that will doom your child's musical career:
"I'm going to let him do this as long as he's interested..."
Would you take this approach with school?
In my years of teaching, I have found that most normal kids want to quit at one time or another. The disciplined one has to be you. If you are making the choice to give them a musical education, you've got to follow through.
Here's my story-
I had two older brothers, both of which quit piano lessons. They are quite a bit older than me, and when I started lessons, they told my parents, "Please keep him going, we wish that we had".
I wanted to quit every week! But as a compromise, my parents let me take the summers off.
Now I make my living full time playing music! Can you believe it? Thanks Mom and Dad.