March 8, 2011

Keeping It All Straight

Have you noticed that there are many great resources out there for piano teachers?? No kidding, Nicole, thats what this blog is all about! When I first began teaching my siblings, I felt overwhelmed with all that was available. You have to understand, when it comes to creative juices, mine don’t flow...I don’t even think I have any to flow! :) So I depend largely on those that do have creative juices. I do sometimes come up with my own things, but I don’t have nearly as easy of a time with it as some of you. How did you get all the creativity??

So I search. I search high and low for what would be most suitable for me. When I first began with my siblings, I loved everything I found, and wanted to print everything off and try it! Some of it worked, and some of it didn’t. At first I felt discouraged that my siblings didn’t absolutely heart everything that I did. Then I realized that I just needed to find what worked best for them and for me as I taught.

This resulted in more research and more overwhelming material! Fun, fun! Before you think that I’m complaining about it, let me assure you that I absolutely love reading piano blogs and websites and looking at all the great stuff out there! But it can be hard to figure out what I need for my studio. Here are a few basic points to keep in mind while doing that unending research and forming lesson plans.

Less is usually best. If you print off every great thing you see, not only will you use a ton of printer ink, but you will also have waaaay more material than you can use! Your lessons are only so long, and your students can only process and retain so much information. Use what will fit into the lesson, both time-wise and practically.

Consider the needs of your students. You may find a great game that reinforces finger numbers, but it is a waste of time and ink if this student knows her fingers like the back of her hand. No pun intended. :) Keep in mind the individual needs of your students. What concepts are they struggling with? What sorts of things do they enjoy doing? Your students were not all cut from the same cloth, and each activity is not going to fit them.

Example: I had a wicked fun game to use with each of my students. It was a quick race down the keyboard between the student and myself. It had worked well with several students so far! Then as I went to explain it to a beginner student, I decided not to play it as a fast-paced race at the last second. She was a beginning student, and since she was racing against me, I would have had to obviously “let” her win. I personally don’t think there is any satisfaction is being made to win. So instead, we played it at a slower pace, still between the two of us. And she won! Fairly and honestly. It was a much better way to play this particular game with her.

Keep your goals in mind. What goals are you pushing towards with each of your students? What goals do you have for your studio in general? If you have a theme for your year, find things that go along with that theme, or reinforce your main concept. This helps things to flow together in your students minds, not just, “here’s a random game.” Not like you would actually say that, but that message will be conveyed unless there is a purpose behind what you do.

Use variety. I think someone should write a book entitled, “101 Ways to Play Bingo-Type Games in Piano Lessons.” :) I’m not against bingo-type games. I have used a few of the great ones out there, and my students do seem to enjoy them. But I have also passed over a few I’ve found that may have been what I was looking for, but we had already played some of these type recently. I’m not picking on the bingo ones, I’m just saying that variety is best. There are many, many ways to reinforce a concept if you use your imagination! (An extra bonus is if you have some of those creative juices I talked about!)

Those are some of the ways I funnel and process all the great things I find on the web. I’d love to hear from you! Do you often use things you find from other teachers? How do you make it all come together in your studio? Most of all, do you have creative juices? If you do, are you willing to share them?? :)


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