I started playing hockey when I was four years old. Now, thirty-six years later I am still playing hockey.
Why? Because it was fun then and it is still fun now.
All of my hockey friends are still playing too.
I would assume the same holds true for basketball, soccer, and baseball.
But this is not always the case for the piano. Too often kids hit their teen years… and piano is the first thing to go.
Why? Because piano lessons stop being fun. Everything in a lesson becomes “serious business” as their repertoire becomes more difficult.
All of these “serious” things are necessary ingredients for an effective music lesson. But none of these things matter if your piano bench is empty.
So, today we want to show you how your teen piano students can still have fun in a piano lesson even if they are no longer interested in puppets, piano puzzles, and music stories.
3 Lesson Activities To Make Teen Students Smile
Can I let you in on a little secret?
I was never, ever going to be a professional hockey player. Being several (or more!) inches too short and 60 pounds too light meant that I could instead simply focus on both becoming a better player AND having fun.
And if we’re being honest, this should be the mindset of most of your teen piano students.
Some may go on to study piano at university. Others may make their way to the stage. But all I really want for your teen students is for them to love music for as long as they live.
For this to happen, your teens need to be actively developing their skills while also having a great time.
Because your teens can’t play WITH the piano the same way a preschooler can, fun comes in a different package.
Read below for 3 ways to bring joy to teen piano lessons and then check out a resource at the bottom of this post to make it all come to life.
1. Lap Tap Clap Rhythm Training
Preschool and primer students love to work on rhythm with boom whackers. But give one to your teen students and they’ll look at you like you’ve lost your mind.
Instead, get your teens working on rhythm with Lap Tap Clap Duets. Lap Tap Clap is our way of referring to body percussion. Your older students will have a blast making body percussion beats as you rock out on the piano.
2. Improv In Action
If you have teen kids or have ever had teen kids, then you know that their entire existence is about being original and forging their own path.
It is no wonder then, that teen piano students go crazy for improv on the piano… once they are given the opportunity and find just enough confidence to get started.
When presented in a way that still provides the structure for guaranteed success and an educational purpose, improvisation on the piano provides just enough originality to keep teens motivated.
3. Playing From Lead Sheets
Lead sheets are the secret weapon that all teachers have heard about but only a few use with regularity.
If you teach teen piano students you have, no doubt received requests from your kids to play Top 40 tunes. You may have even searched for books of repertoire to keep them interested.
But their interests will change by the day (or hour!) so instead of always searching for the latest sheet music, you’d be better off teaching them HOW to play from a lead sheet so that they can hop onto Youtube and bring their favorite tunes to life as they see fit.
A Teen Method Book That Includes All Of This Fun!
If you have no idea how to make lead sheets, body percussion, and improv work with your teen piano students, don’t worry!
We include these elements for the perfect teen piano lesson in our teen method book series: WunderKeys Intermediate Pop Studies For Piano.
If you are looking for an all-in-one lesson approach for teen students, this will be your go-to teen resource.
WunderKeys Intermediate Pop Studies For Piano is a pop-infused lesson companion to reinforce scales, chords, triads, and left-hand patterns. It transforms exercise-based repertoire into motivating pop piano studies that your teens will go crazy for.
But don’t be fooled by its modern and fun approach; this series a pedagogical powerhouse.
Your teens will become just as skilled as they would in any other method book… but with WunderKeys, they will do so while having a whole lot more fun!
Check out what teachers are saying:
I’ve never been that crazy about Hanon or Czerny but still need a vehicle for my students to work on their technical skills. Pop Studies has become my favorite, and also my students’ favorite!
Each chapter has interesting activities and appealing, contemporary-sounding pieces that work on skills of scales, arpeggios, chords, key signatures, lead sheets, and improvisation. Often the songs or activities in Pop Studies are more liked than their actual repertoire music for that week!
I have been battling for years to comprehensively teach students how to use chords both in lead sheets and classical music. I finally (after 16 years) have a tool that covers (drumroll): the theory of scales and their individual chord progressions, alongside technical exercises, being applied in repertoire and then–yes there’s more–being applied to lead sheets and improvisation, as well as rhythmic activities. It blows my mind how comprehensive this tool is. My students LOVE it. Their faces light up with the “wow” factor when they see how scales and chords work universally for all keys. They practice the pieces for fun!! I just ordered 6 books this week. This is going to be a permanent addition to each of my student’s piano libraries. I can’t say enough about these books.
If you have a teenage piano student, this book would definitely put a smile on his/her face. It’s just what happened when I presented this book to a 16-year-old student. His eyes lit up as I showed him the different sections of this book and played samples for him….just from the 1st section. I can’t deny, my eyes lit up and so did my ears when I played it for myself earlier too. So well organized and thought out. It’s truly a game-changer for those students who want more and often turn to youtube. This book will keep them reading music and playing what they like.