My teenage piano students are coming to their lessons more enthused than they have ever been. Actually, I had two ask if they could have an extra lesson next week… not because they have a competition coming up and need extra help, but because they just want more time in piano lessons! It’s simply excellent. And I owe it all to Rhianna and P!nk.
If your forehead just wrinkled as you thought “Who’s that” and “Was that just a type-o?” then you need to do a bit of research into the Top 40. Because a fabulous trend is emerging in pop music where the piano is heavily featured in some of the hottest music on the radio right now, and we piano teachers can seriously cash in on the motivation this can provide to our teen piano students.
Why Teaching P!nk deserves that “!”
In the last 6 months to a year, Rhianna and P!nk have both had huge hits that heavily featured the piano. In addition, Bruno Mars came out with “When I was Your Man” (a song that is simply Mars playing the piano) and both Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have shown their own piano skills by hopping on the bench during their tours. These are just a few of the pop stars who are choosing the piano lately when producing their newest singles.
Something wonderful is happening. It’s no longer just the guitar that is cool. The piano just started dating the Prom Queen.
And while these artists may not be your cup of tea, you can bet that your teenage piano students hear every one of these artists every single day. In the age of iPods music follows teens everywhere. This is our opportunity to steal some of the magic that guitar teachers have had for years; what we teach in piano lessons can be relevant, motivating and… very cool.
Making Pop Music Valuable
If you’re concerned about filling your teen’s piano lessons with Rhianna and The Biebs then consider this, teaching pop piano music will:
1) Give your teen piano students a great grounding in understanding chord progressions. Let’s face it, pop music is really repetitive. If you use it as an opportunity to delve into the theory behind the chord progressions they’ll have enough repetition within the song for it to really “stick”.
2) Pop piano music can be like Hanon exercises with a mohawk Your teen piano students can gain some serious coordination and muscle control by playing pieces like Adele’s “Someone Like You” or Coldplay’s “Clocks” and you can bet they’ll play it way more often than the Hanon you assign.
3) Pop piano music is motivating to teens. Teenage piano students love to have something they can “wow” their friends with. A Prelude and Fugue may or may not fit this bill… but you can bet that that Bruno Mars song will be a crowd pleaser. If your teens get positive feedback from their buddies about their involvement in piano, you will have a much more committed piano student. Friends are king at this age, and encouragement from peers is stronger than any motivation you can provide.
Wondering What I’m Teaching?
Here’s just a few of the pieces that feature the piano that my teens are going gaga for. There truly is a ton out there right now. The important thing to remember is these are not just simply pop songs arranged for piano, these are pop songs meant for the piano! You can find all of the below on Musicnotes.com:
“Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk and Nate Ruess
“Stay” by Rhianna and Mikky Ekk0
“When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars
“Someone Like You” by Adele
“Say Something” by A Great Big World
“Waiting Outside the Lines” by Greyson Chance
Did I sneak some Heller and Bach into my teens’ piano lessons last week? Yes I did. Did they still ask for extra piano lesson time next week? Yes they did. Did the Heller and Bach get practiced? Yes it did. Getting my teen’s butts on the bench at home is key… and I’m relying on the power of pop to do the job for me.
If you’re looking to get your younger students glued to their piano bench, then spring is the perfect time to introduce your students to composing! Don’t let composing instruction seem confusing… let a hilarious dog and cat do the job for you! Check out “The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff” and watch your piano students beg for their next lesson.