Throughout my musical studies, I met various piano teachers, and I have been a piano teacher for about 25 years. I've had some wonderful teachers. Others were not so nice, and attending their classes was not particularly inspirational. I was also not always such a great piano teacher at the start of my career since I lacked experience but I always tried to make my piano lessons as enjoyable as possible.
In this article, I would like to talk about the different flaws and qualities that I've noticed in my piano teachers, as well as how I have always attempted to learn from them in order to make my piano lessons more pleasurable.
The two most unpleasant behaviours
The instructor's lack of attention and the horrible habit of starting each class by shattering my playing first before looking at the qualities were the two most vexing flaws.
I'm sure you realise that I'm not going to divulge any names so as not to offend anyone!
One of my master piano teachers was unquestionably a fantastic pianist. However, he appeared to be offering piano lessons for financial reasons and seemed uninterested in my performances. He used to be at least 15 minutes late for each lesson and would spend a significant amount of time on the phone.
To begin each class, one of my other piano teachers would completely crush my piano playing. That approach did not strike me as particularly productive. It was depressing, and I used to spend my lessons grieving.
The most inspiring music teachers
I have also had some wonderful music teachers that made learning fun. Naji Hakim, my music analysis teacher for a few years, comes to mind. I wasn't very interested in the subject, but he was so enthusiastic about it that each lesson was a treat.
I also recall fondly my piano lessons with Edson Elias, Francois Weigel, and Thierry Lang. They were all outstanding pianists and teachers, but they were also much more. They were my friends because they were so personable and understanding. I could talk about anything with them, and going to their lessons was my favourite time of the week!
Finding your own style and the right balance
Through teaching experience, I believe you can develop your own technique and find the proper balance. You will gain confidence and feel more at ease as you teach different people each week.
You will learn how to find a balance between educating your students and making their courses pleasant. You sometimes have no choice but to tell them that they haven't done well, but the key is understanding how to do so in the proper way, with the right words and tone.
I specialise in teaching adults and have learned how to successfully approach them over time.
Here is the advice I always give to young pianists who are new to teaching:
It may appear unproductive, but I believe it is essential to speak with your students at each lesson, especially when they come in. They have just arrived at your lesson after a long commute, and they need some time to unwind and recover from the stress. Also, some of them may be nervous about showing you what they have practiced, and talking can help them relax. Whatever the situation, I feel it is critical to show to your student that you care about him or her on a personal level. After all, you are not a teaching machine!
I would gladly share my personal stories. I have always liked listening Edson Elias share his personal experiences. Instead of merely knowing my piano teacher, I was getting to know the man a little more with each passing week.
Criticising can be hard!
Criticising is difficult! It is far easier to compliment someone's performance than it is to tell him that he is doing everything wrong. Usually, this is not the case, and there is always something you can commend your pupil on.
Here's how I approach a performance or a technical exercise: I start by looking for what has improved since the previous week, and then I focus on the flaws. I always congratulate my students before examining the areas that need to be improved.
I believe in motivating my pupils and bringing out the best in them. We all have flaws and strengths, and being commended initially aids in realising that there is still work to be done in other areas. I feel that if we are encouraged, we can find some inner power, and I employ this technique with all of my students.
Having a good sense of humour can also be beneficial because you can always laugh together!
When you take on the position of a teacher, I believe it is equally necessary to become a good listener. You should be prepared to answer questions and assist your student with any problems he may encounter. Students are occasionally anxious about trivial things; they frequently believe that they are not good enough and that they are not progressing as expected. Whatever their concerns or concerns are, you should remain calm and ready to assist them. After all, you are their guide, therefore they should never feel as if their questions are too foolish to ask.
You want all of your students to be at ease with you. Some piano teachers play the role of the huge guru and wear a faraway mask, but I don't think that's the right way to be a teacher.
I would also be pretty flexible in terms of repertoire selection, as long as the piece is not far too tough for my pupil. I believe it is critical that your students play music they enjoy, as long as it is appropriate.
I would let them choose whether they want to prepare for the grade exams or perform at the piano recitals you might put on at the end of the year.
I have always liked allowing my students to be free within a structure, and I believe it is the best way to go if you want your pupils to enjoy their piano lessons with you!