So you’re introducing 3/4 time to a piano student… you give a nice and detailed explanation, you play some samples, your student plays some samples, and you send him home to practice.
The next week when he returns to lessons, a mysterious 4th beat keeps popping up in those 3/4 time piano pieces! He has forgotten everything!
Has this ever happened to you? With 3/4 time?… Or quarter rests?… Or key signatures?
How To Help Piano Students Remember
The truth is, regardless of the concept being learned, children are not good listeners. They just aren’t built to be good listeners… even if they look like good listeners. Heck, most people (including adults) aren’t good listeners!…
Not because they don’t want to be, but because they simply don’t learn by being “talked at”. Fortunately, there are several tricks piano teachers can use to help their students make better mental connections:
1. Learn by doing: And this doesn’t mean repetitive practice of a concept on the piano keys. Instead, have your piano students physically explore a concept away from the piano with games and movement and art!
2. Employ all of the senses: Well, not all of the senses… it’s likely better to not have your piano students “taste” a concept. But beyond that, when you’re exploring something new on the piano ensure your students have opportunities to hear, see, and feel the concept.
3. Tell stories: If you’ve been a reader of the Teach Piano Today blog, you know Trevor and I are huge fans of learning through stories. Stories generally put piano concepts into unexpected situations, and unexpected situations are… memorable!
4. Make things visual: Below is a picture of a dog that Lexi drew… at least it looks like a dog. You see, the picture was actually created from a story. As you read the story below, see if you can figure out the parts of the dog’s face that represent the story.
There once was a man who got attacked by bees, so he jumped in the pool. The pool had two changeroom doors, but the doors didn’t lead to changerooms, they led to a larger pool… that had water slides.
If we had simply asked Lexi to remember this story after a verbal retelling (without the drawing) it would have been a bit of a struggle… but by connecting the story to a visual, she remembered it after only one retelling. Employing quirky little visuals accompanied by a story are a great way to solidify piano concepts
5. Make it emotional: Emotional things are memorable. And they best way to make piano concepts emotional is to get kids excited about the concepts they are learning. If you can make a concept exciting it will be memorable.
Kid Will Never Again Forget A Concept If You…
Become a member of PianoGameClub. If you cross-reference the list above in the context of a piano game, it becomes very clear that playing games with your piano students is one of the best ways to hammer home those challenging concepts.
We painstakingly design our games to be unforgettable… so when your piano students stumble across a challenging section of a piano piece, using phrases like, “Remember when we were playing Crazy Eggs?…” should trigger a mental flashback and help them retrieve the necessary skills to overcome piano piece obstacles.