A piano teacher as a mentor, a coach and a friend

In this article, I would like to discuss the importance of having a piano teacher who would be a marvellous pianist, but also a mentor, a coach and a friend.

Too often, piano teachers do not devote themselves to their students, and they can fall into the following categories:

1. The young pianist who is still studying, and who teaches the piano to a few students, to get some pocket money, and help his/her parents to finance their piano studies.

2. The musician who has not achieved the dream of becoming a concert pianist, and did not wish to have a profession who is not related to music.

3. The busy concert pianist who is teaching to secure a regular income, but who does not have much interest in teaching.

I can not obviously recommend any of these piano teachers as none of them would be suitable. Please see further information below:

Teacher 1 (the young pianist): Taking piano lessons with a young pianist, who often only teaches for a few years has not developed the necessary experience to be able to understand his students, and to adapt to their needs and wishes. Teaching the piano is an art that should not be seen as an extra activity as it takes years, and a lot of experience to know exactly how to take a student forward. You obviously do not want to end taking lessons with somebody who will simply give you some scales to practice, and pieces after pieces from a piano book for adults. I am sure that you wish your instructor to care about your specific needs and goals.

Teacher 2 (the frustrated pianist): The frustrated pianist is possibly the worst instructor you could meet as he/she has got no enjoyment whist teaching, and obviously not all the phenomenal knowledge developed by a successful pianist. Having piano lessons with somebody who check his/her watch often, and teaches you to pay the bills, without love for it, is the least motivating experience you could have while dreaming of learning how to play the piano.

Teacher 3 (the busy concert pianist): I have experienced this type of piano teachers in my youth, as I have obviously studying with the most famous and acclaimed pianists of our time. As a young pianist, I was extremely frustrated and disappointed to realise that they were actually sharing all their knowledge, as they were busy thinking about their next concert while teaching me. Having the privilege to study with well-known musicians seems exciting, but it could also be not educative enough, and often useless.

I have listed the points, that I think are essential if anyone thinks that she/he is a brilliant piano teacher:

1. Have a lot of love and interest for the students.

2. Be a “real” teacher, and think deeply about the strengths and weaknesses of your students in order to give them the right pieces and exercises to study. The reason why they are playing the piano or the style they like playing is also of tremendous importance.

3. Analyse how you play yourself, and think how you could pass the information on to your students.

4. Never follow a set syllabus, as everybody is different, and adapting to each student is crucial.

5. Remember that your students are people, and not just piano students. They need attention at the piano, but also as men and women. As a teacher, you should undoubtedly take in consideration that your students will often share personal issues with you, and you should be ready to listen and to support them.

6. Enjoyment is the key to all great piano lessons, so make sure your students are happy to attend their lessons. They should not only develop their piano skills, but spend one of the best hours of their week with you. I am happy to remind you that adults who learn how to play the piano have undertaken this hobby for their own pleasure, and they should have a lot of fun whilst learning.

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