I have two daughters, Lexi (6) and Halle (2). My brother has two sons, Braiden (5) and Nate (2). Our kids are best friends who spend a ton of time together. And as great as they get along, they really couldn’t come from two more different houses.
When my brother walks into our house he compares it to walking into a library with our girls quietly coloring, crafting, or playing with their dress-up trunk. Which, as he’ll happily state, is very different from his house which is often filled with the sounds of two boys and one “big boy” wrestling, chasing, running, and slamming.
So when my brother and his wife decided to sign up their oldest son, Braiden, for piano lessons they were concerned music wouldn’t “speak his language”. Of course, I knew they had nothing to worry about because we’ve dealt with hundreds of rambunctious boys (and girls) over the years and had a ton of success all thanks to the following 7 principles.
How To Make Piano Lessons Speak Braiden’s Language
1. Get Him Off the Bench
Point number one should come as no surprise, but for those of you who are new to teaching boys… make piano lessons active. Regardless of gender, little piano kids cannot sit happily at a piano bench for 30 or 45 minutes. The shy and polite ones may pretend to be happy, but in their heads they checked-out a long time ago. Get those kiddos off the bench and having a blast!
2. Begin with an Anecdote
Braiden loves interesting, funny, startling, gross and, of course, true stories. That’s why we make sure his piano teacher shares funny little stories about the piano and the music he is learning. Sometimes he hears about Mozart playing with his nose, other times he hears about a thief who was arrested after stopping to play a tune mid-robbery. Every little anecdote helps to keep his interest so the learning can continue.
3. Be Competitive… But Not With Others
Braiden loves a challenge… in particular practice incentives. Give him a goal with a reward and he’s all over it. But do not make challenges social. Like myself when I was his age, challenges against other students get him all stressed out and I don’t blame him one bit! The pressure to compete and win gets in the way of learning and having fun.
4. Give Him a Purpose
When piano lessons are competing with soccer, hockey, dirt bikes, and tonka trucks, playing for simple enjoyment just won’t hack it all of the time. Piano lessons are fun… and then hard… and then fun again. The pure act of learning piano will not be enjoyable 100 percent of the time. So to get kids through the “hard times” it is important that they always have a purpose… be it an upcoming recital, a practice incentive, or a family concert.
5. Incorporate Technology
Want to see Braiden’s face light up? Bring out the iPad when he walks through the studio door. Computer-based apps and activities turn piano lessons into an instant game, and who doesn’t love a little bit of gaming every once in a while!
6. Provide Role Models
It is important that kids see what they can become. Piano lessons become much more relevant for Braiden when he is able to play lead sheets from popular artists that are “cool”. He’ll come to appreciate the cool factor of Beethoven and Mozart one day but for now it is simply easier to inspire him with Youtube videos of The Piano Guys.
7. Focus On Action
It is tough for young piano kids to connect emotionally to a piece of music. That is why, for students like Braiden, piano pieces with a bit of a story line or clear actions are always his favorite; it is simply easier for him to relate. Don’t avoid emotional pieces altogether, but be sure to intersperse them with some car chases and popcorn.
Piano Resources For Boys
Our comic-based piano series, The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo is great for active piano students. If you have a young student who needs that “something special” to get inspired be sure to check out what this series has to offer.