A lot of people feel like piano learning isn’t that hard a thing, that you can just pick up a piano and play the piano for a long period of time. And you could be right, because it sounds pretty easy, the way it is built, but I’d argue that’s just not true. It is an incredibly challenging task. It’s not like if some of the old piano teachers were playing Chopin or Beethoven then we would get the kind of knowledge that we have today. So, when you take somebody who’s never played a single note in their life and they’re playing something they know, then you’ve pretty much learned everything you need to know and you’ve put them through a whole lot of difficult stuff, there’s a lot of work involved in learning to learn to play something new.
As you mentioned, there’s been a lot of research looking at kids who, for whatever reason, have a lot of trouble learning new sounds. Is that something you’d like to add to your research?
You can’t teach children how to learn to learn piano. It’s something that happens as babies, it’s something that happens as teenagers, it’s something that happens to young adults. It’s something that happens in a very adaptive way over a period of time, but it does change quite a lot.
The way I’m thinking about how we teach the piano, we tell children they’re learning and they’re going to be better at it, and we explain that we want them to find the right way to play and they need to learn to learn.
But, we don’t get them actually playing the piano and doing the things that we teach and they’re not progressing quite as quickly as we’d like. Now, that would have been very easy for me to sit back and say: “Ok, well we’ve done this, we’ve got these kids who are really good at the piano, and they’re not getting much better very quickly, we’re just going to give them a little bit of something that’ll make them happy, will make them want to play, but they’re only going to get a whole lot of this until they get to a level where it’s worth the investment of their time.” We’re not seeing that now.
What are the biggest challenges a beginner piano teacher faces, and what steps do you recommend for developing a strong relationship with the novice piano player?
What it comes down to is this: If you want to achieve greatness (or
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