I have been trying to get this one kid, I’ll call him Ian, to at least not hate piano for the last year. Finally, after over a year of me trying to get Ian to practice and always asking him “what do you WANT to play?” the persistent nagging finally made him cave and he suggested some songs to me. We are now learning these songs and for the last 8 weeks he’s actually been practicing of his own accord. In the last 4 weeks after lessons, he’s been saying “thank you” to me of his own accord.
I’ve managed to get another trouble student, called “Alan” (who is actually a great kid, he just isn’t that into piano) to show a little bit more enthusiasm once he started playing contemporary songs that were very repetitive. These pieces usually contained the same pattern that was played over and over and over again. Why are these kinds of songs so effective? Because it feeds our need for instant gratification. The student plays the song for the first time, and after 5 minutes, he’s already not sucking at it! It already starts sounding like music, without the pain and long term endurance normally required of most music. So of course, he goes home and practices without needing someone to nag him to.
When I started to teach Alan how to read chord charts, it was as if a light went on inside his head. It turns out that all those triads that I made him practice, yes, the ones that he hated and regarded as pointless, were in fact useful for something.
A = A major triad. Bm = B minor triad. C/G = C major triad with the G in the bottom.
And my mantra to myself with these kinds of breakthroughs is:
Teaching is patience and persistence, patience and persistence, patience and persistence.