I decided to record myself while I taught piano lessons the other day. The thought of doing so made me cringe a bit (no one likes the sound of their own voice… well, except the wedding officiant I had to endure last Saturday!) but I thought that the end-product would be worth it, and… it was!
What did I learn by listening to an unedited version of me? Check it out:
1. Find a “Gooder” Word for Good
I counted… I said “Good!” 10 times in 30 minutes. This has become a habit with me – I err on the side of being perky and enthused when I’m teaching, but I realized I need to find a better word to convey my pleasure with what a student has just done. “Good” is a pretty empty word… it doesn’t mean much. I’m making a point of biting my tongue when I want to say “good” and instead am starting sentences with “I noticed you just…” or “Did you hear…?” etc.
2. Be Okay With Moments of Silence
I talked about this a bit in our post on how to teach piano to shy students, but I still find I have the need to fill all moments of silence in the lesson. Once I really started to pay attention to this it was quite apparent (and now annoying!). Less is more and I am working on making what I say be completely meaningful every time. This also gives my students an equal chance to be the conversation starter.
3. Slow Down Motor Mouth!
This is part of my generation… we talk fast, we type fast, we drive fast (okay, that’s just my sister-in-law) but I realized that while I am very conscious of slowing my speech when teaching… I need to do so even more. It’s important to remember that every bit of information I am giving a student is the first they’ve heard of it… they need ample time to process the knowledge before moving on.
Despite My Aforementioned faults, I’m Pretty Proud
As much as the 3 things above bugged me, it was also nice to sit back and really take stock of how much fun I have in lessons with my piano students. Most of the recordings had quite a bit of laughter, a lot of language intended to boost confidence, and just kibitzing in general. My students and I enjoy a similar sense of humour and we know each other well. It was also nice to reflect on just how lucky I am to do this as my job! I get to listen to stories about slugs and pet caterpillars and field trips and I get to tell stories about fermatas and minuets and tenuto markings. It couldn’t get any better.
Ready to make some changes to your teaching approach but don’t know where to begin. Well, you could record yourself like I did… or you can check out our Piano Teaching Guide and find out why a teacher recently wrote to say “I have found “Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers” to be absolutely invaluable! It was exactly what I needed to revitalize my teaching approach and make many positive changes.”