Of course the title of this post is tongue and cheek… I don’t suck. In fact, I am a skilled pianist. I have spent years studying the piano, honing my craft.
But I am not, nor ever was, a prodigy… a virtuoso.
And according to Malcolm Gladwell and his best-selling book, Outliers… I should thank my lucky stars; given that my passion has always been piano education.
You see, according to Gladwell, experts (or virtuosos) are instinctive in their actions; meaning they play or perform unconsciously. And because of their “instinctive actions” they often make horrible teachers. They simply can’t explain how they do what they do.
I, on the other hand, am not a virtuoso. While I am certainly an accomplished pianist, my actions on the piano are definitely conscious decisions. I thoroughly process every decision I make as I play through a piano piece; you might call me a “classic over-thinker”.
But this also makes me a great teacher. I can help a student conquer a challenging piano piece because I can explain in great detail every little action that must occur to achieve success.
Virtuoso or Not?
Whether you fall into the Virtuoso Category or not, remembering to “think like your student” should be your number one priority as a piano teacher. Don’t get frustrated when they just can’t seem to grasp a concept or skill. Instead, do what mere-mortals would do…
Break down the desired task into very small, specific, and deliberate steps that must be done to achieve success. Do this… and one day you will be able to live the Virtuoso Dream through your talented students!