The topic of youth vs experience has been raised several times in recent weeks, both on the Teach Piano Today blog and around the web, so of course I had to write a post about it… I mean, how controversial, right?
There are common complaints from both parties in the debate; older piano teachers believe that people think they aren’t ‘cool’ enough, while younger piano teachers believe people think they don’t have enough experience.
But in reality, neither party has to worry about either of these arguments, because “being cool”, “being experienced”, and even “being Ivy League educated” are not the determining factors in piano teaching success. Do they help… yes. Does it mean you’re doomed without? No!
Because piano teaching success is not about “you”, it is about your students, and how they feel and how they progress when they come to your piano studio.
So, if you’re an older teacher, don’t worry about being cool. You don’t have to be cool to teach your piano students cool music. Besides, what is “cool music”? Even among kids, cool music differs from one person to the next. So let’s avoid talking about being cool and knowing about cool music, and instead refer to being relevant for each and every individual piano student.
And if you’re a younger teacher, don’t worry about being experienced. Sure experience helps, but what is ‘experienced’? Is experience a good thing if someone has been teaching poorly for 25 years? Of course not! So stop worrying about your experience, and start focusing on your students’ success. Are they practicing? Are they progressing? Are they happy? If the answers are “Yes, Yes, and Yes”, I would argue that your lack of experience is as important as a parka in July.
When all is said and done, kids don’t care if you’re cool, and they don’t care if you’re experienced. But they do care if they are having a good time. They do care if they are progressing as a piano player. And they certainly do care if they are being treated with kindness and respect.