Joe's Blog

A useful definition of piano teaching

July 22, 2018

Piano teaching: the use of a combination of demonstration (for the purpose of imitation) and metaphors (which at best convey something intangible to the student), which the student can internalize.  The metaphors are aided by things like tone of voice, tempo of voice, cadence in the voice, enthusiasm, and gesturing.

To me, piano teaching involves:

A creative attempt to enter the student’s mind to see what point of view they are receiving the information you are trying to convey, and then spontaneously translating what you are saying into the student’s personal language.

Adapting the tempo of communication to a rate that neither bores the student or exceeds their rate of comprehension.

Being an advocate for all that is good in the student’s playing and being patient regarding all things that are challenging to the student.

Allowing the motivated and curious student to have varying degrees of control over the sequence of events during the lesson.  And by the end of the lesson, although things may have been covered in a different order than the teacher planned, most of those things were dealt with.

Willingness to answer, as accurately as possible, everything the student asks having to do with music and teaching.

Distinguishing between these three types of information:

a. “Do it this way because it is correct.” For example, you played a C-natural instead of a C-sharp.
b. “Do it this way because it is the tradition to do it this way, handed down through generations of teachers and students.” For example, it is traditional to  play this part slower.
c. “Do it this way because it is my personal opinion that it  should be done this way.”

Otherwise, the student will conflate all three forms and the teacher takes advantage of being in a position of authority.

Not ‘getting in the way’ of the gifted student.

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