Congratulations! You’ve taken that first step and found your piano teacher! That’s amazing! Hopefully you found someone with a great vibe, clear policies and expectations, and a real command on their trade. At this point, I’m sure you’ve asked all of your questions about their policies, expectations and methods. You know - the basics.
What you didn’t know you needed to do was share specific information with your teacher that can end up making or breaking those lessons.
Ideally, your teacher knows the right questions to ask right from the get-go, but nobody’s perfect. With just a few key points of information, you can provide your teacher with an arsenal of information that can prove invaluable to their teaching.
#1: How often does your child have access to the piano?
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how many people have neglected to let me know that when so-and-so goes over to her mom’s house, she doesn’t have a piano or keyboard. Not to mention, she’s there for 4/7 days of the week. If your child is in a situation similar to this one, just make sure to let your teacher know from the very beginning. If your child does not have trouble with access to the piano, still take this chance to let the teacher know of any challenges you can foresee when it comes to regular piano practice. In most cases, they’ll adjust their practice requirements for your child appropriately. Inflexibility in this matter is a sign of a more rigid teacher, which may not be the right fit for you.
#2: Are there any personal details about your child which might affect their learning?
We’re getting personal really fast here. This is where it becomes incredibly important that you have a teacher you can trust to be mature, respectful, and open-minded when it comes to your child. As a teacher, I can tell you that an understanding of the child’s mental health and individual triggers is an essential component in my piano teaching. In some cases, I’ve taught kids with some of the more obvious and diagnosable conditions such as ADD, ADHD and Autism. These are some of the more commonly-mentioned ones by the parents, and we generally found good ways to discuss their child’s individual learning patterns.The parents I heard less from were the ones with the child who struggled with oppositional defiance, the high-strung kid who was wonderful when they could listen but often ended up having meltdowns, the perfectionist, the painfully shy, and my list really could go on.These are all great kids who are completely capable of learning the piano, but had to go into a high-stress learning situation with someone they don’t know who doesn’t know them either.Truly, piano is tough. The best thing you can do for your kid is to provide their teacher with as much information as possible.
#3: Be open about what you and your child want and need from the teacher
Being open with the teacher about your needs and expectations is essential from the very beginning. During the teacher-selection process, it’s good to be very clear about the teaching-style you’re looking for in order to best help your child. Once you’ve found your teacher, maintain an open dialogue about your child’s evolving learning-style. At this point, I could tell you by name which of my students lean towards kinesthetic learning, which ones are more about logic and reasoning, and which ones need more visually-based lessons. In a future post, I hope to cover all of the learning-styles and how that applies specifically to learning the piano, but in the meantime it helps to know that whatever way your child learns best - your teacher would love to know about it.
#4 Tell your piano teacher what your child enjoys most in life, and what they’re good at!
Not only is this a fun way for the teacher to get to know your kid, but it might provide them some hints on how to go about teaching. For instance, I recently started teaching this great student who LOVES baseball. I have got to find him a level-appropriate arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
It can also help to know which subjects your child excels at such as math, art, music and sports. No matter what your child enjoys, there is so much supplemental learning material out there for the piano that I like to find things that follow themes that the student likes.
#5: Set a piano commitment with your child, and let the teacher know.
In many cases, parents begin their child in music lessons with the intent to stay as long as they can. In some cases, it works just fine. Alternatively, I believe that by having a time-bound goal, the teacher has the opportunity to structure their lesson plans for your child in a much more constructive way, and your child is more likely to commit to lessons that they’ve made a promise to take. Creating time-bound goals is a great way to encourage dedication and consistency from a young age. (That being said, I know some beginning piano students are a little too young to understand this concept). If you do find setting a goal with your child to be a good option for your family, you can always re-evaluate the goal as your time-committed date approaches.
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a piano-filled week!