Don’t! That’s just silly… they actually belong in the recycling bin.
It’s amazing how quickly a piano lesson can fly by. You have just a few brief moments of your students’ week and often it feels impossible to fit it all in. How can you effectively review their home practice, teach new repertoire, impart your wisdom on technique, introduce theory concepts and train their ear all within 30 minutes?
The answer is simple… you can’t!
But rather than throwing your hands up in the air and declaring that it’s impossible… or trying your best to shuffle your students through their lessons like a tour guide on steroids, read on, because there is a solution!
Integrate… Don’t Seperate
Your first step towards freeing yourself from rushing through piano lessons is to completely commit to teaching piano in a way that is integrated… not separated. What do I mean by this? Well, get out your recycling bin and fill it with your theory books, ear training books and flash cards. It’s hard to do if you’re used to relying on these books to teach these concepts… but you’re going to be doing yourself (not to mention your students) a huge favour in the long run.
Piano concepts need to be taught in context. This means that theory is not drilled on separate worksheets or thick workbooks, but rather right on your students’ current piece. Ear training is not a quick little activity to do before they head out the door, but rather part of dissecting and memorizing their newest (or oldest!) repertoire selection. Technique is not only done through 5-10 minutes of mind-numbing scales and triads, but rather discussed and practiced within the structure of their current piece.
Your students need you to show them the connection between what they see on their page vs. what you are teaching them about theory. You can write out all of the dominant 7th chords you want to on a piece of staff paper… but you can bet your piano students will still have a heck of a time identifying them once you switch over to their piano piece. How many students have you drilled note-reading flash cards with only to have them turn around and ask “What’s my starting note”? Teaching in context is not only good teaching… it’s the only way to make your piano lessons efficient in terms of time management.
So get out your highlighters and pens and pencils. Discuss the pertinent theoretical concepts that each of their pieces hold. Have your students discover the theory behind what they see on their pages. Have your students listen to and identify what it is they will be playing. Have your students play the scales and triads that make up the backbone of their repertoire selections.
Do this, and not only will you create piano students who make connections easily between theory and their music… but you also be able to slow down time 🙂