Before I taught my first adult piano lesson I thought I might pass out. I was so nervous. She was old enough to be my mom. I was young enough to think that it mattered.
What if she didn’t like what I had planned for her? What if her expectations were different? What if she didn’t like me?
After the first five minutes of her lesson my adult student took a huge breath and said “I just have to tell you how nervous I am! I’ve been fretting all morning thinking ‘what if she expects too much from me? What if I remember nothing? What if she doesn’t like me?'”
We became fast friends.
Teaching Piano to Adult Students
I soon discovered that teaching piano to adult students is not all that different than teaching piano to children. In fact, I quickly learned that if I forgot this fact, I was actually missing out on some great opportunities for building a whole lot of “wow” into my lessons.
The most striking example of this happened to me just a few days ago. A former adult student of mine who had taken some time off to deal with ill parents, home renos, a new job, a new grand baby… you name it!…was coming back for a “brush-up” lesson. It felt like eons since I had last seen her and the progress she had made on her own was fabulous.
So I told her so; and I did so with all the exuberance and praise and smiles and perkiness I would have used with any 6 year old. I gushed about her dynamics, her posture, how she made it thorough “the tricky part”. I marveled out loud at her ability to work ahead, at her hand balance and her sense of rubato. I showed her the goosbumps on my arm that arrived as soon as she played the most beautiful pianissimo section. I told her she was wonderful and how excited I was at what she had accomplished.
And she reacted in the same way as would any 6 year old; she blushed, she grinned, she was was instantly inspired.
Release That Inner Child!
Sure some adult piano students are there for serious business; they have goals, they have deadlines and they have expectations. And on the flip side, some adults are there for reasons that extend well beyond the piano.
But in either case, everyone benefits from a good dose of “wow” when it really counts. Resist the urge to change the way you relate to your piano students simply because of age. Adult students appreciate enthusiastic praise, humor and fun as much as children do… maybe even more so!
And Now… Announcing Something BIG!
We’ve been working on something here at TPT… and it’s going to be big! As those of you who are regular readers know, we don’t release a project unless it’s epic… and this certainly fits this bill! Stay tuned for Tuesday’s post where we’ll be giving you more information on this project that will have you and your kids jumping for joy!