When piano lessons start to "click".....!
Today, she came in and played an "older piece" quite well, and I was thinking "good, she practiced". Then as we moved on to the new assignment she was supposed to work on, the confused look came back,and she confessed that she had "not practiced much". What to do? I opted to put a good spin on it and use the next 25 minutes "re-reading" the piece and talking about practice techniques that could help her out. As we stumbled into our first rough passage, I arranged some pennies on the piano fall board behind the keys. After we played it once correctly, I moved a penny from the pile and started a new pile. She played it again correctly, I move another penny to the new pile. Wow! She really seemed to like this.....smiles, and determination were suddenly in full force. That simple goal of getting 3 pennies to a new location was all she needed to dig in, concentrate, and pay attention to detail. The third time, she made an error. So I took all of the pennies back to the original pile, telling her to start again and play the passage 3 times in a row without error. This time, I had her move the pennies as she finished each successful repetition. I like this, because she had to take her hand out of position on the piano keys to move the pennies, and then to start the next rep, she had to find that hand position again. The pianists reading this know how difficult, yet valuable, finding the proper hand position is.
Over the remaining time in the lesson, we read through three new pieces using this same method, more work than we've ever accomplished. The biggest accomplishment? She left with a smile on her face. After she left, I thought about it as I enjoyed "basking in the moment"....this is why I teach....I really enjoy watching someone improve because I imparted some knowledge to them. But that smile...knowing that someone is beginning to enjoy music making....it's what makes my day.
David James teaches piano and bass lessons at his studio in Wichita, KS .... aptly named the David James Piano and Bass Studio. "Like" his studio page on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, check out his website at www.djpianobass.com.