Time management in a piano lesson can be a tricky thing. Do you sometimes find yourself wondering how in the world you’re going to cram all your piano teaching brilliance into a single lesson?
Review old pieces, learn a new piece, theory games, lead sheets, composing, recital prep, ear training, sight reading… it seems completely impossible to fit it all in in a quality way.
And it is.
Which brings me to my question… “Who made the piano method book rule?”; Who said that you have to use a piano method book every single lesson; that you have to fit all of these activities into those precious 30 minutes? Who said that an entire piano lesson shouldn’t be devoted to just composing, or just sight reading or just theory?
The fact is, I don’t know if anyone has ever said it! But I was keenly aware of this perceived rule when I was teaching a piano theory with play dough lesson last week. My student was SO into the activities. He was totally motivated and even began devising his own (ingenious!) new theory games with play dough as a prop. We were learning about rhythm and note values, about intervals, about major and minor chords… He was on task, he was laughing, he was learning; he was LOVING his piano lesson. And then I glanced at the clock and realized I hadn’t yet touched his method book, and I panicked for a moment. And then quickly realized how silly that worry was.
Rules are Made to Be Broken…
The next time you’re wondering how you’re ever going to cram it all into one lesson ask yourself this question – “What will happen if we don’t touch the method book?”. It’s likely that any negative implications are far outweighed by the positives of having a student engaged and fully “in the moment” doing whatever piano lesson activity has their attention. A week of review at home in ones method book never hurt anyone. In fact it makes us better pianists.
Once I allowed myself the luxury of not always having to haul out the method book every single lesson I found that I was better able to “read” my student. Once I had this new insight I could truly hone in on what would improve their skills… with or without using their method book. Obviously method books have their place. Obviously you want to use them during lesson time. But the next time you notice your student is completely engrossed in an activity, consider allowing yourself the luxury to be flexible in your piano lesson structure.
One thing that always has my students completely engaged in creating music and improving their composing skills is our composing with kids book “The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff”. If it were up to my piano students, they’d happily spend weeks just using only this resource!