He spent 35 years on American television. He’s endorsed Frosted Cheerios. He inspired a Saturday Night Live parody. But can Gumby really provide anything of value to piano teachers? I for one, think so!
What can we learn about teaching piano to children… from a little green humanoid?
Bend, Don’t Break
Which brings us to 3 Gumby-inspired piano teaching tips…
1. Set reasonable piano practice expectations
While we all want our piano students at the piano each and every night of the week without fail… sometimes it is just not possible. Strict practice policies can be counterproductive; that is.. children may practice piano less. Set reasonable expectations based on each student’s piano goals.
If you teach children piano who have asked for exam-based piano lessons and who have their sights set on post-secondary music education, then by all means, be strict… it’s the only way lofty goals will be achieved. However, if you teach piano to children who are taking piano lessons for the simple love of music, than a missed practice session here and there should not create cause for concern. Only when recurring lack of piano practice begins to affect a student’s progress should action be taken.
2. Include the likes of Lady Gaga amongst your piano teaching resources
Even if her music leaves you “Speechless” put on your “Poker Face” and pretend to love it. Appealing to individual music tastes when teaching children piano will keep your students interested and inspired, buying you time to teach a true appreciation for classical music.
3. Give all piano students a chance to make a good first impression
A lot of piano teachers hold entrance interviews with potential piano students before “taking them on”. While this isn’t an entirely bad idea, I would suggest having an initial trial period, rather than an entrance interview. Interviews can be manipulated (for good and bad), but nobody can fake a trial period.
Remember, bend but don’t break. Know your piano teaching boundaries. Don’t be immoveable… but don’t get pushed around.