I have a minecraft-obsessed piano student (as many of you do, I’m sure!). It’s all he talks about. I’m not a video game person and so it was initially a little tiring.
Me: “So let’s take a look at this piece. What key signature is that if it just has one sharp?”
Aidan: “You know what’s really sharp… the blade on the sword that I have with my suit of armour on Minecraft”.
I had actually never laid eyes on Minecraft in my life… but I was obviously going to have to get acquainted to connect with this student and his interests. And so I hit up Google.
If You’re Interested… Let’s Run With it!
I’ve found great success in relating piano concepts to other interests my students may have. Steps and skips become horse jumping analogies for my horse-crazy kids. Dynamics are related to the “force of flames” for my dragon-crazy kids. Whatever it is that they’re going gaga for at the moment can easily be adapted to work with what they’re learning on the piano. Why does this work?
1. Your students’ interests are going to be occupying their waking-hours anyway… why not add some piano connections to their thought-processes. With my Minecraft guy, we used the game’s theme of building anything with blocks to then discuss major and minor chords. He drew his Minecraft-style man and then we drew major blocks and minor blocks around him, using a different color block for the lowered 3rd in the minor chord. I knew he’d be thinking of this activity at home that week (and he did!)
2. Your students will appreciate your willingness to “come into their world”. What 8 year old wouldn’t adore a piano teacher who actually knew something about Minecraft… or Star Wars… or skateboarding. These connections count when your piano students are going through the inevitable valleys in piano lesson enjoyment, and if your connection is strong enough you’ll weather these with a lot more success.
3. It’s more fun! Thinking this way stretches your teaching muscles. Being inventive and creative does nothing but good for the way you approach concepts, the way you teach and the way you relate to children. Maybe you’ve never heard of Minecraft… but with a little research, light bulbs might start going off in your mind about how you can use Minecraft-like activities in your lessons (that will then solidify concepts faster and with more accuracy for your students).
Get Interested… And Get Creating!
We piano teachers are in the enviable situation of having the potential to sip from the fountain of youth every day. We’re around children and teens who have their finger on the pulse of all that is current and trending. If we pay attention to what they’re talking about (and do a bit of research to understand it!) we can quickly update ourselves to a hipper, more with-it Piano Teacher 2.0. And Piano Teacher 2.0 is a much better operating system. In fact, using an earlier version could cause piano students to crash 😉