TeachPianoToday’s Q&A – The First Q&A of the New Year

Before I begin this week’s TeachPianoToday Q&A, I would like to thank everyone who submitted a piano teaching question and participated in the chance to win either…

1. The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo (Piano Music For Boys) OR
2. Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers

The 3 winners in the random draw are Noel, Cindy and Janet (I’ve sent each of you an email indicating how you can claim your prize).

Now For Today’s Question:

Should a teacher make a student learn classical piano if they do not want to learn that style?

This is a great question, and one that I think is really important to consider for all of your piano students … even those who are not vocal about their preferences. In order to truly develop piano lessons based on each student’s individual needs (a goal every piano teacher should have) you need to examine exactly why each student is taking lessons.

It’s easy to slip into the mindset of teaching piano the way we ourselves were taught. For most of us, this is a foundation based almost entirely on classical music. However, the approach to piano lessons today is changing. Students who want to learn to play the piano simply for their own personal enjoyment are signing up for lessons more and more frequently; often with no musical background, no previous exposure to classical music other than from TV commercials, and the desire to play what is immediately relevant to them.  It is up to us as modern piano teachers to deliver a program that meets their needs … and not fall back on a “cookie cutter” approach where all students learn the same repertoire. Not all piano students have their sights set on the concert stage. Not all students connect with classical music.

Opening Your Students’ Minds to Classical Music

If your piano student has said “no thanks” to classical music then it’s an opportunity to stretch your teaching skills and deliver a piano program that teaches the skills and technique that classical music develops, but uses repertoire that appeals to your student’s tastes. The piano is an extremely versatile instrument – and you will become an extremely versatile teacher if you open yourself up to teaching a variety of styles.

From my personal experience, if you can engage a student with music that they feel is relevant, and build their skills on the piano using material that excites them, then you often open the door to classical music in a way that makes it approachable to those who might not have ever considered classical repertoire to begin with.

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