You pull out all the stops. You use engaging materials, fun music, and an enthusiastic approach. Your studio is thriving… your students are learning and laughing and practicing… and then BUMP!… There’s that one student who interrupts your piano teaching utopia.
No matter what you try, he doesn’t practice, doesn’t smile, doesn’t engage… doesn’t progress. But still, he shows up every week. And every week you pull out all the stops again and again.
And when nothing seems to work, you email Andrea and Trevor 😉
It seems we’ve received a few of these “help me!” emails lately, and they all have a common theme: What can be done with these unmotivated piano students? Are they “save-able?” Should I continue trying?
If you have a hard-to-reach piano student in your studio you’ll want to read on to find the cure to piano student apathy. Kick off your 2017 teaching year with a solid plan for turning things around for your unmotivated piano students.
A Change in Approach = A Change In Response
Many piano students fit nicely into tidy, while somewhat varied, categories. They respond well to unique teaching materials, they are excited by fun music, and they thrive under your joyful approach to music making. But there will always be piano students who do not fit into a mould. And it is these students who require a change in your teaching approach.
This change often begins by asking yourself one question. Why is this student here?
This question is one that you may need assistance in answering, and the best person to provide you with this help is your piano student.
Ask Your Unmotivated Student The Following Questions:
How do you think you will use your piano skills one day?
What do you wish you could do on the piano right now?
The answers to these two questions will surprise you and should be used to direct your approach when teaching your unmotivated piano student. Changing your approach for the unmotivated student may mean changing repertoire choices, providing varied performance opportunities and altering lesson structures.
Of course, in asking these two questions you may also get the dreaded “I don’t know.” When this happens it’s time to embark on some research into what piques your piano student’s interest. Discover together all of the different ways that people use piano skills (collaboration, recording, improvising, writing music) and then grab onto the one that elicits a “That sounds cool.”
Once the detective work is done, you’re off to the races! Your approach to teaching then becomes one of applied skills acquisition. “What does he need to know to be able to _____.”
It becomes easy to direct your lesson activities when there is a clear *why*. It becomes more likely that your student will participate and progress if he knows how each activity, skill or concept will directly contribute to his ultimate goal.
Your Opinion Should Also Have Influence
While it’s great to consider your unmotivated student’s piano lesson wishes, your opinion matters too. What your 11 year old piano student finds motivating at 11 may not be the same when he is 15, 27 or 60. It is for this reason, that you want to address his motivation without neglecting the skills and processes you deem to be important.
Kids’ motivational factors change, and by constructing lessons that blend your ideas with your student’s wishes you will ensure that your (now motivated) student doesn’t have anything holding him back when he decides in 5 years that he’d actually really like to be the accompanist at the local Ballet school.
Finding A Piano Student’s Perfect Repertoire Match
With Teach Piano Today’s PianoBookClub you’ll be prepared no matter what your piano student finds motivating! For just $8 a month you can build a library of piano books quickly and inexpensively. Find out more about our books here.