I am a huge fan of stick-with-it-ness. I believe strongly in the benefits of hard work and dedication. I believe that accomplishing a seemingly insurmountable challenge is something to be rewarded and cherished.
But I also know that every piano student has a breaking point; and that teachers run the risk of having their students reach that breaking point when dancing the line between pushing for success and pushing too hard.
If moving on from unfinished piano pieces makes you uncomfortable (as it used to make me!) in today’s post I’m sharing 7 reasons why should not feel guilty about letting go of unfinished piano pieces.
7 Reasons Why “Moving On” Is Okay
At some point, every piano student is going to meet a piano piece that just does not “click”. No matter what you do, it bugs them. Maybe their fingering is wrong, or there is a memorization issue, or there is a stumbling block that happens every… single… time.
You’ve drilled, you’ve asked for more practice, you’ve tried fun activities, you’ve taken it apart and put it back together a zillion times… nothing has worked.
So, it’s time to move on… and that’s okay! Here’s 7 reasons why:
1. Practice Time Will Suffer. Even if your student gets frustrated and drifts off the bench just 10 minutes early every practice session that could mean 40-50 minutes of lost practice time each week! We spend a lot of time getting our students on the bench, so once they are there, we want them to stay.
2. Practicing a Piece That Doesn’t “Click” Reinforces Bad Habits. Teachers only have a short time each week to correct what is going wrong in their students’ pieces. Bad habits in difficult pieces sneak up quickly during a week of practice at home and can be hard to undo.
3. Self-esteem Suffers When Students Continually Fail. Feelings of failure can transfer to negative feelings towards the piano; something neither piano teachers nor piano parents want to happen. However, feelings of success have the opposite effect, drawing kids to the piano (and that success can come in the form of a different piece that teaches the same concepts).
4. Continual Correction In Lessons Hurts The Student/Teacher Bond. If you’re always telling your piano students what they are doing wrong, you miss opportunities to show them what they do really well! As teachers, we can’t help but offer corrections when a piece is going poorly (we need to fix the mistakes!) but the moments where you celebrate success are where your teacher/student bond is formed. And it is this bond is that keeps piano kids in lessons for the long term.
5. The Poor Parents Have to Listen at Home. This sound silly, but it’s true! If your students’ parents are listening to their children stumble, their perception of future success in piano may be dampened. Having a child practice at home should be a joyful part of home-life… not a frustrating one.
6. Time Wasted. The time you spend trying to get that one piano piece right robs you and your students of time that could be spent exploring a wide variety of other enjoyable pieces. Slogging through one piece for weeks, without marked progress, means your students may miss out on other great learning experiences. A teacher’s goal should be to produce a well-rounded pianist… not a pianist who can play one piece really well.
7. The Poor Piece! This “hated” piece still has the potential to be loved one day… but not if it’s been dragged through the mud for weeks. By recognizing the appropriate time to “move on”, you leave the door open for a happy return and for the concepts in that piece to be learned when the student is ready.
Maybe Your Piano Students Should Move On To This Music…
Should our piano students move on every time a piece gets hard? Absolutely not. Should we teach our kids that it’s okay to put some pieces on the back burner? Yes! Each piece of repertoire comes with a massive learning opportunity, but if this learning just isn’t happening.. it’s simply time to pick a new one.
And if you’re wanting a “new one” with a whole lot of spunk, character and fun to turn that frown upside-down then you’ll definitely want to check out Teach Piano Today’s PianoBookClub. With a new piano book delivered to your inbox every month (for $8 US/CDN per month) you’ll never be without the perfect piece for every single piano student.