Every weekday morning I take Lexi to school and spend the first 15 minutes of the day reading with her and her classmates. I love to start my day this way! It is very inspiring to watch young children move from non-readers to readers over the course of 180 days.
But it’s not all roses.
Some kids, like Ryan (not his real name) have been intwined in a struggle with reading since the start of September. Nearly every day since September I have read with Ryan, and, while other kids have rocketed through the levels, Ryan seemed to be stuck on level 4.
Because of the launch of PianoBookClub.com and because of our website redesign, I have missed the last 3 weeks of the morning reading routine. But on Friday, I returned to a delightful surprise!
Ryan had progressed 5 levels in my absence and was now sounding like a real reader. My jaw hit the floor. Something in Ryan had finally clicked!
Why Your Struggling Piano Students and Ryan Are Not Overnight Successes
Ryan should be the piano teacher’s poster child for not giving up. Because, although he was not learning piano, the processes and the end result are the same.
Most struggling piano students, like Ryan, will eventually get it… if they’re given the chance.
But struggling piano students aren’t always given the chance. Too often the struggling piano student or the disheartened parent will throw in the towel before “that something” has a chance to click.
As piano teachers it is our job to be the beacon of hope that never loses light; to know that all of the strategies we reinforce each and every lesson are not lost on our struggling students but rather are being filed away deep in their minds, waiting for that final piece of the puzzle when everything just makes sense.
Learning to play the piano can be frustrating, but piano lessons don’t have to be. Piano lessons don’t have to be about struggling through piece after piece in leveled method books.
Instead piano lessons can, and should, be a varied experience for your struggling piano students (and everyone else!)…
- Get your struggling students off the bench
- Play simple duets that sound awesome
- Play piano pieces a couple levels below their current abilities often
- Have fun with listening activities
- Use piano teaching games… daily
- Invite them to group piano parties
- Avoid the “typical” piano lesson structure (you know… warm-ups, scales, review etc.)
Ryan was able to stick with reading because he finds school fun. He does not spend the entire day “reading” but is instead “playing” a bunch of games and engaging with a bunch of friends… and learning a bunch of “things” that eventually made everything click!
Waiting for your struggling piano students to “click” can be frustrating. It may seem like they are going nowhere… but that’s simply not the case.
They’ll get there… it just takes time.