Teaching Piano to a Sensitive Student

Teaching Piano to a Sensitive Student ~ Piano with Joy

Every student comes to a piano lesson with their own unique personality.

They also come with their life story trailing behind them.

This can especially play a role when teaching a sensitive student.

You might not know what’s going on in their life. When they’re on the verge of tears for not passes a song–that they clearly weren’t ready to pass–they might be having a flashback to another time they’ve failed, and deep inside they might feel like they never measure up. They might feel insecure. Or, it might just have been a hard day for them.

We don’t know the whole story.

But we do know they’re sensitive, and thus they should be taught with a caring heart.

What has been the best help I’ve found in teaching a sensitive student?

I have much to learn, but the best help I can offer right now is one word:

Communication

Communication is always important, but especially with a sensitive student. Saying “You’re doing well, but you need more work on this song next week,” might be enough for tears to well up before you’ve even begun to instruct them on how to improve the song.

You’ve got to get to the root of the tears or why their face is so downcast.

  1. They might be comparing themselves to their older sibling who mastered the song in one week, and now they’re on their third, and feeling like less.
  2. It might be that they hate the song.
  3. It might be that they thought they had the song down pat, and feel like you’re being hard on them.

In each of these scenarios, some gentle conversing can ease the emotions welling up. Good communication can boost their spirits, help them to work through their insecurity, and show them how gifted they are.

Make sure to praise your student whenever you can; their sensitive, learning hearts need it.

“You’re doing amazing!”

“I loved the dynamics you showed forth in that song.”

“I can tell that you worked very hard on this song this week.”

“You’ve learned so much.”

“I love being your teacher.”

Don’t push forward too hard.

Gently teach alongside them, striving to communicate well and be aware of their sensitivities, and you might be amazed at how your student begins to feel more comfortable, more accepted, more accomplished.

Watch them begin to blossom.

I’d love to hear from you..What’s your advice on teaching a sensitive student?

Pinterest: A Great Resource for Piano Teachers

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Pinterest can be a great place to save online piano teaching resources (articles, sheet music, quotes etc.) in one place.

If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest, don’t worry. It’s pretty easy. Simply sign up and then type in the search, key-words that interests you (i.e. “piano teaching”) and see what comes up.

Inspiration is out there! ūüôā

My Piano Teaching Pinterest Board:

Have you found Pinterest to be helpful with piano teaching?

Discovering Your Student’s Learning Style

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Everyone learns differently, and learning piano is no exception to this rule.

There are three basic learning styles widely recognized in education–visual, auditory, and kinaestetic.

In piano teaching, visual learners will likely respond well to reading music, while auditory students will learn better by hearing music, and kinaestetic learners will learn best by active application.

Recently, I’ve discovered that one of my students is an auditory learner. My typical “visual” approach to teaching hasn’t been as successful with her as with other students. This has led me on a quest to learn how to best teach an¬†auditory student.

In my research I came across this¬†wonderful article by Susanna Garcia on effectively recognizing and teaching to our student’s learning styles:

Learning Styles and Piano Teaching

If you don’t mind a “technical” read, then I would suggest the entire article. But if you simply want the “synopsis,” then skim along to the¬†summary table later in the article, followed by some smart tips for teaching students with different learning styles.

Understanding our student’s learning style can eliminate the confusion when our teaching method isn’t working. And it can help us¬†shape their musical education in a way¬†that¬†encourages¬†them to excel.

I’d love to hear from you…What type of learning style do you¬†typically¬†teach? What has been your¬†experience¬†with teaching a students that learns¬†differently¬†than you?

Using Stickers to Help Students with Dynamics

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All you need:

Stickers! ūüôā

What to do:

Simply have  your student place stickers at the points in the song where the dynamics change. Not only can this help them get to know a new song better, but it can also bring some color contrast to the black and white page, and work as a helpful reminder as they play. This exercise might be especially good for a visual learner who is having a hard time connecting to the feel of the song.

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What is one of your favorite ways to help students emphasize dynamics?

Setting Goals in Piano Teaching

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Like most things¬†in life, it’s important to know our goals.

Goals for Students

  • Draw out the talent God has given them
  • Learn how to read music
  • Learn how to compose music (if desired)
  • Discover their preferred musical style and encourage them in their desired goals
  • Give them a foundation that can be helpful in learning another instrument in the future

These are my goals for students, but I also ask them what their goals are.

Sometimes¬†they don’t know what their goals are, but we can help them find them. Pay attention to the songs that they “click” with, and help direct them on their¬†journey as a musician.

Sometimes they do have a vision. Perhaps it’s to lead others in worship,¬†play songs by¬†one of their favorite artists, compose their own music, or play the great classics.

What are your goals for students?

What are your students goals?

Let’s not forget our goals and¬†theirs, so that we strive to be the¬†best teachers we can be.