02 January 2024
By Kathryn Page
Kathryn Page introduces some feisty and fun teaching ideas for the year ahead... and some that can be applied to non-teachers too
1. Make every lesson you teach feel special
The once-a-week appointment for pupils should never feel like a visit to the dentist! Lessons should energise and inspire daily practising.
2. Always see the glass as half full rather than half empty
If a tutor is negative, a pupil will follow suit.
3. Always write lesson plans
Structure is always positive – even if the schedule is abandoned during sessions.
4. Always review lessons
Progress and attainment must be recorded and monitored.
5. Encourage and encourage again
Ban the word ‘No’ from all your lessons and I guarantee your pupils will respond more effectively.
6. Support all my students with practice tips in every lesson
All the pedagogy in the world is limited if a pupil cannot work on their own effectively in practice sessions.
7. Take ‘no practising’ as a great opportunity to lead a practice session rather than give a lesson
Be a practice buddy and play with your non-practising pupils until they love it so much they cannot bare not to practise!
8. Stimulate student self-regulation
Ultimately, we succeed as teachers when pupils find us superfluous. Making them independent quickly is vital for their musical growth.
9. Always develop the whole Musician
Piano playing is so much more stimulating when it moves beyond mechanics.
10. Relate lessons to the bigger picture that is every student’s whole life
Music reflects and stimulates everything. Embrace life as you support and encourage your pupils.
11. Include singing in every lesson
If we cannot breathe and sing a phrase, we cannot play it.
12. Make room for improvisation
Creativity is a win-win phenomenon – and there are no ‘mistakes´ with improvisation.
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13. Get off the piano stool and dance
Music cannot exist as a static phenomenon.
14. Never cram schedules with back-to back lessons
If you are flustered and stressed, the vibes will have a bad effect on all your students.
15. Encourage students to learn pieces that are beautiful but well within their technical capabilities
If you are constantly straining at the threshold of technical comfort, it is so much harder to project your music’s inner picture.
16. Move away from grades and levels
What would you prefer: Angela Hewitt playing Grade 2 selections from the Anna Magdalena Notebook or a disengaged student attempting a diploma programme?
17. Bring students together for duets and ensemble sessions
The piano need never be an unsociable beast!
18. Organise concert trips
Watching live music remains energising and can even be life affirming. Check out my tips on how to develop your students away from the piano.
19. Encourage posture and healthy practice not just at the piano but in every aspect of life
Children under the age of six inevitably have perfect seating positions and excellent gaits. We all owe it to ourselves not to lose this.
20. Remind every student that good sleep, food, exercise (physical, mental and spiritual) and hygiene is possibly more important than knowing fingerings for all your scales
This surely is nothing but common sense.
21. Make every pupil love the recording process
Overcome the fear of the microphone and confidence in performance will soar.
22. Encourage a love of sharing musical achievements
Performance thrives from communication. Encourage all your students to find a new recording, new composition or new artist they warm to so that they can share their new discovery with you.
23. Help pupils to get excited rather than nervous by exams, competitions and concerts
Turn discomfort to pleasure: It’s all a matter of attitude and perspective! Try and add some spice and excitement to the so-called 'boring' aspects of preparing for exams and events. Check out my tips here on how to make practice more fun.
24. Develop the art of stagecraft fully for everyone who plays – from the first lesson beginner up to the seasoned adult returner
Developing a natural and comfortable platform presence takes time but is deeply rewarding. Get even beginners in Lesson 1 used to walking onto an imaginary stage and bowing.
Happy New Year from everybody here at Pianist. May you continue to enjoy and develop your teaching and playing through 2024 and beyond!