oak bay


Trust Between Music Students and Teachers

Relationship between student and teacher

The relationship between piano student and piano teacher is built on trust. While method books guide students through new concepts and increasingly harder music, students mainly rely on their teachers to build their sense of musicality. This sense of musicality includes sense of timing, rhythm and pitch.  More simply put, method books don’t have “answer keys”. Therefore students must trust their teachers in order to develop their musicality.

Furthermore, piano teachers are responsible for figuring what the next step is. In a perfect world, one method book would suffice in teaching a student. However, like clothes, piano lessons are not a one size fit all. Some students are more technically gifted, with underdeveloped ears. Some students pick up note reading quickly, but can not improvise naturally. The scenarios and situations are endless. It is the teacher’s job to find the route that can help the student progress. After all, music is about progress, not perfection. 

Mistrust

When I was taking piano lessons as a child, I recall feeling frustrated at my teacher’s corrections. I remember rejecting her teachings as irrelevant or not important. I remember asking why certain things had to be one way. I remember feeling frustrated at the repetition of difficult passages. Ultimately, I was questioning my trust in my piano teacher’s method. This mistrust was damaging in my progress as a pianist.

Throughout my journey as a pianist, I began to appreciate my teacher’s efforts more and more. What seemed irrelevant back then now seems obviously important. Some of the lessons were about music; for example, how rhythm is integral to a solid performance. Some of the lessons were about life; it is important to not give up after the first few tries. The mistrust I felt hindered my progress, when my teacher had my interests in mind.

Now as a teacher, I ask for trust from my students. I promise, with all my heart, that I will never ask my students to do something that I believe is unnecessary. I will not ask my students to play music that I find irrelevant to their progress. I will not push my students to practice in a while that is inefficient. My goal is to build creative spirits, with a solid knowledge in musical grammar. Trust me, so we can work together.

 

Take Piano Lessons with Eric Here
Learn More About Lessons with Eric Here


Summer Slide for Piano Students

Summer slide describes the tendency of students to lose learning gains during the summer break.  This generally refers to school students, and their reading abilities.  It is estimated that students in low-income families fall behind, on average, 2 months behind on their reading.

While 2 months of no reading may seem insignificant, research shows that the consequences are cumulative and  are long lasting. As a solution, experts suggest providing children with enjoyable reading material, and encouraging them to continue reading without teacher support.

This discussion is directly applicable to piano lessons. Because music is also a language, progress is dependent on continued reading. If a student does not continue reading music in the summer, it is very likely for the student to lose the gains in their musical journey. Since piano lessons are generally once a week, it is inherently already less ingrained in the child’s life throughout the school year.  By removing these piano lessons in the summer, the effects of the summer slide are even more evident in piano lessons. Imagine teaching your child to read only once a week, in addition to taking two months’ break every year.

Some Suggestions to Prevent Summer Slide in Piano

  1. Have the teacher and student prepare a book of songs at the appropriate level for the student to enjoy reading through in the summer.
    • Research shows that students gain more educational value from material that they enjoy.
  2. Attend live concerts to keep music in the student’s life.
    • Listening is the key to learning any language. First we listen, then we speak.
  3. Keep up with a practice routine.
    • Not only is this important in maintaing progress, it eliminates the hardship of establishing a new practice habit in September
  4. Continue taking piano lessons.
    • A piano teacher provides accountability, support, and creative guidance to the student’s needs.

 


Does your child have time for piano lessons?

Before starting piano lessons, it is important to ask if the student has mental space for piano lessons. While I, a piano teacher, can accept that most of my students will not choose to dedicate themselves to becoming a concert pianist, it is important for me to know that there is space in their lives for music lessons.

Time of Lesson

Of course, the most basic time required is the time of the lesson. A piano lesson is traditionally 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes once a week. To ensure productivity, parents will want to select a slot that can be consistent, and with the student’s energy level in mind. Since music lessons are only once a week, it is very important for that time to be as productive as possible.

Time to Practice

Research shows that students who practice about 140 minutes a week (roughly 20 minutes a day) are much less likely to drop out of piano lessons in three years.  While serious students will want to practice more, this recommended time allows the student to form a relationship with the piano. With every practice, their fingers get more used to location and weight of the keys. Many students struggle with this habit, and their progress continues at a slower pace.

Time to Enjoy

Lastly, there needs to be time to enjoy piano. A student should have space in their life to create their own music, and to free play on the piano. Without this essential (fun) part of music, lessons can seem dry and irrelevant. While they may progress through the curriculum, their interest can quickly wane without an outlet to be creative.

If the student’s schedule is filled to the brim with other activities already, a tough choice has to made. While I agree that music education is good for brain and personal development, the advantages can not be felt if the student does not have space in their life.

Take piano lessons with Eric here
Learn more about Eric’s piano lessons here