Teaching Children How To Play The Piano
I have been teaching private piano lessons for the past 8 years or so… I am often asked what my techniques are for teaching children this seemingly difficult instrument. I always reply that our focus is on the areas of repertoire, theory, and technique. This is partly true. But I think parents are REALLY asking me how I plan to motivate their easily-distracted little angel to practice and therefore learn to play the piano. If the question were worded so bluntly as that, I would answer just as bluntly. Bribery.
That’s right…children often operate on a system of trade-offs, commonly called “bribery” in adult dialect.
When I was younger, my teacher had a system in place where if the student couldn’t play the assigned piece perfectly, then you would not “pass” that song…and you would not get a sticker. I loved stickers! I wanted very much to have a sticker…..and even more to have my entire music book FILLED with stickers. I worked very hard for each of those stickers, from “The Merry Farmer” to “Fur Elise” and beyond. I spent agonizing hours at the piano fumbling over the same few notes in songs and growing ever more frustrated.
Now that I’m grown, I still have a fondness for stickers, but I love playing my piano much, much more.