Like a good little computer user, I have different passwords for many of the different protected websites I access. Like a bad little computer user, I have, after forgetting one of these passwords, found myself in a verbal shouting match between me and my computer screen.
A match that my unflinching pile of technology inevitably wins.
Maybe you’ve experienced my pain. I attempt to login once… no luck, twice… no luck, three times… YOU HAVE BEEN BLOCKED!
And now I’m in a real pickle.
But after many sessions of computer counselling (I kid, I kid) and many classes of meditational yoga (I might be kidding…), I’ve learned strategies to deal with my “login frustration”; strategies that may also be the fix for your frustrated piano students…
Do Your Piano Students Experience “Login Frustration”?
Piano students immersed in a difficult piece or a tricky measure can experience a similar feeling to my “login frustration”. A particularly tricky area may trip them up once, twice, three times, and suddenly their motivation to keep on trying is BLOCKED!
And you’ve lost them. And you spend the rest of the lesson trying to sweet talk them back to being focused. And all of a sudden, you’re experiencing “login frustratioin”.
But there is another way.
And that other way involves getting away from the piano before the dreaded “attempt number three”. Because more often than not, that third attempt will not be a charm. At least… not yet.
Off The Bench Does Not Equal Brain-Break
So you’ve moved your frustrated piano student off the bench, and now it’s time to switch gears for a moment… correct? Well, not exactly. When a student is frustrated with a tricky bit, they don’t need a brain-break, they need a new way to approach and comprehend that tricky bit.
And the best way to have them think about the tricky bit in a new way is to ask yourself 3 questions:
1. Is there an activity that will help my student hear the tricky bit?
2. Is there an activity that will help my student move to the tricky bit?
3. Is there an activity that will help my student visualize the tricky bit?
Once you’ve discovered new ways to explore the tricky bit, it’s time to return to the piano and see if third time truly is a charm. And I bet it probably is!
Off the Bench Examples For “Tricky Bits”
Let’s use one of my Wednesday students as an example. He was playing a piece where the first beat of each bar was a quarter rest. After two tries where he accidentally played on the first beat (every.single.time) we stepped away from the keys. I handed him some colored pens and had him circle each type of rest he found in a different color.
We counted how many of each he had found and talked about where they were placed within each measure. We walked the rhythm of each measure, doing something silly in place of the rest (his choice… usually blowing raspberries with his tongue.. but whatever works, right?!)
Back at the piano we tried again. Bazinga! Success. I sent him home with a fun activity to reinforce what we did in the lesson and I’m betting next week he’ll be on track. Usually it just takes a conscious effort to step away from the piece in order for a concept to sink in.
Do Try This At Home…
If you’re looking for “off-bench” activities to reinforce those “tricky bits” both in the lesson and at home then you’ll definitely want to check out our resource Pssst…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Theory. It is jam-packed with 88 theory games and activities that are absolutely, positively, most definitely NOT BORING!