Over many years of teaching I had regular phone calls from parents who were desperate to bring some music to the lives of their children… yet tentative because of their active personalities. I’d hear: “He doesn’t really like to sit still for very long, so I’ not sure how this will work…” or, “Her teachers say she’s so bright, but she has trouble focusing” all the time. Parents of active children were often concerned that piano lessons wouldn’t “speak their language”. Sports seemed like a safer bet, yet they knew the benefits of piano lessons and wanted that for their children.
Over many years running a very large studio, we’ve taught hundreds of rambunctious boys and girls. I never once said “no” to a parent on the phone, and had a ton of success all thanks to the following 7 principles.
7 Ways You Can Adjust Your Piano Lessons To Suit The Needs Young Students
1. Get Them Off the Bench
Point number one should come as no surprise, but for those of you who are new to teaching young children… make piano lessons active. All young piano kids cannot sit happily at a piano bench for 30 or 45 minutes. The shy and polite ones may pretend to be happy, but in their heads they checked-out a long time ago. Get those kiddos off the bench and having a blast!
2. Begin With An Anecdote
Children love interesting, funny, startling, gross and, of course, true stories. Make sure to share funny little stories about the piano and the music your student is learning. Talk about Mozart playing with his nose, a thief who was arrested after stopping to play a tune mid-robbery… little music-related stories that kids will love. Every little anecdote helps to keep their interest so the learning can continue.
3. Be Competitive… But Not With Others
Kids love a challenge… in particular practice incentives. Give them a goal with a reward and they’ll be all over it. Try to avoid challenges against other students as this can leave young students stressed out when the pressure to compete and win gets in the way of learning and having fun.
4. Give Them A Purpose
When piano lessons are competing with soccer, hockey, hip hop, dirt bikes, lacrosse, and skating, playing for simple enjoyment just won’t hack it all of the time. Piano lessons are fun… and then hard… and then fun again. The pure act of learning piano will not be enjoyable 100% of the time. So to get kids through the “hard times” it is important that they always have a purpose… be it an upcoming recital, a practice incentive, or a family concert.
5. Incorporate Game-Based Learning
Want to see your student’s face light up? Bring out a piano game when he or she walks through the studio door. Children retain more information when they are invested in the outcome… and who doesn’t like to get down and have some fun attempting to beat their piano teacher?! Our PianoGameClub games are “kid-approved” in that they are visually exciting, quirky and hilarious (think Dust Bunnies running from the vacuum or Pirate Pancakes walking the plank) and created in a way that allows your young students to actually beat you fair and square!
6. Provide Role Models
It is important that kids see what they can become. Piano lessons become much more relevant for children when they are able to play lead sheets from popular artists that are “cool” and current. Providing opportunities for the young children in your studio to frequently see your more advanced students “in action” is also really important.
7. Focus On Action
It is tough for young piano kids to connect emotionally to a piece of music. That is why, for active students, piano pieces with a bit of a story line or clear actions are always a favorite; it is simply easier for them to relate. If there is no clear story… create one together!
Piano Resources For The Action-Obsessed Kiddos In Your Studio.
Our comic-based piano series, The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo is great for active piano students. If you have a young student who is working from a Level 2 method book who needs that “something special” to get inspired be sure to check out what this series has to offer. Find it on Amazon here.