What I Love About Teaching Piano
Have I ever told you how much I love teaching piano? Because I do!
Here are five reasons this piano teacher has found joy in the journey --- on a path which continues to be varied, thrilling, challenging, and full of opportunity for discovery of each student's unique gifting.
I love to...
...select music fitting for students' needs and desires
Honestly, most people wouldn't guess that this is one of my favorite pastimes, but I love to look through my personal music library, and browse music store racks and publishers' catalogs to find the best music for each student.
And sometimes I compose my own music to fit the present needs a particular student may have. Another thrilling adventure!
Then putting it all together, with a general timeline as a (flexible) guide for the best time to utilize certain resources, is an enjoyable challenge to me as we move forward.
...discover what repertoire students choose for themselves
I am not always the only one, in the teacher-student-parent team, to pick out music for the student. For example, when students opt to play for festivals, competitions, recitals, and the like, I first play several pieces for the student to choose from.
Not only do I love deciding which offerings to give the students (and practicing the music myself to play it well for them), but I can't wait to see which piece(s) they select!
Other times, students will bring in additional music they'd like for study or performance pieces. I find that encouraging, when they take initiative in their musical journey, gaining a measure of self-direction. Not all decisions need to be made by the teacher.
...see students' inquisitiveness
When students ask questions, it is, well, music to this teacher's ears. I love questions!
Why does the stem on this note go up, and that other stem goes down?
What are the middle and left pedals for?
Why is there a bass clef sign on the top and bottom staff in this music, when it's usually only on the bottom?
Did Mozart and Beethoven ever meet each other?
Witnessing students' curiosity as they dig deeper into their music is one of my favorite aspects of being a piano teacher --- especially when they ask me questions I've never been asked, and I get to search for the answer, too.
...challenge students with questions
I'm curious, too. It is fascinating for me to get a glimpse of what's in a student's mind as s/he plays.
What picture came to mind when you played this part?
Why do you think the composer included this section?
Do you think this is a good title for the piece? What would you name it?
What sort of touch could you apply to get across the mood of this piece?
Sometimes the answers to these questions are delightfully surprising!
...watch students blossom in their playing
I can't tell you how much I love it when students bloom in their confidence at the piano. I've found over the years that when the musical foundation is laid well, and students diligently apply what they've learned, they open up in expressive, truly awe-inspiring ways.
The parents or other listeners hear it. The student feels it. And the teacher --- this teacher for sure --- revels in the wonder of it.
From the initial exploration of the black-key groupings, to the first tentative reading of notes on the staff, and on through the years of increasingly complex music, played with a touch and technique sometimes so refined in its artistry, it can take a listener's breath away for the moment...
Right there is the joy that makes all the hard work worth it. Learning the piano takes time, but seeing students reap the benefits of their dedication to their craft is a great blessing to many.
And that is probably what I love best of all about teaching piano --- guiding students as they bloom and keep alive the tradition of aesthetic beauty that comes through skillful, emotive piano playing.