When I talk to teachers about composing with students, they immediately become self-conscious and get a deer-in-the-headlights look. I can see them frantically searching their brains for what they learned in their university theory classes about harmony and counterpoint, the structure of a Sonatina, writing a canon, and other such techniques that have no place in a teaching studio when dealing with young students. When I show them how we approach composing at our studio, it’s actually humorous to watch. They want to try it themselves – right now.
It’s a sad fact, but most piano teachers don’t compose with their students. Instead, they hammer away at theory and technique, training the robotic pianists of the future! This approach is all wrong.
Piano, and music, are about passion… about personal expression. A great pianist is “great” because of how well they interpret the music, how well they express their personality through the music. If you want your students to become piano players that captivate an audience, that stand out from the crowd, that are intrinsically motivated, they NEED to be composing their own music. It will become the single most important activity you teach.
For a fool-proof approach to composing, check out our guide, “Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers”. It outlines a step-by-step approach to composing that will light a fire under your students. They will never want to leave the piano bench!