One of the biggest challenges of teaching music is finding ways to keep each student inspired and motivated to learn.
But it can also be one of the most satisfying parts about teaching since there are so many possibilities to explore!
Each student is different, and it takes time to get to know individual personalities and interests.
But if we put in the effort and find ways to spark imagination and creativity for students in their lessons they are much more likely to enjoy the process of learning, and this will translate to their practicing at home.
Here are some creative tips to incorporate into your lessons:
MIX IT UP SOMETIMES
Consistency is important, but deviating from the pattern from time to time keeps piano lessons fresh and exciting.
We’re always anxious to get to the next song in the book or get ready for the next recital, but now and then, throw in a musical game or take time to focus on a particular technique in a fun way.
This will help you avoid getting into a rut of always having the same routine, and it opens up other possibilities to explore and be creative.
One of the best ways to keep students inspired is to hear you (yes, their teacher) play in the lessons.
It is beneficial and fun for them to hear you play the songs they are working on, and once they are ready, you can play duets with them!
You can also show them videos of music that relate to what they are learning, and you can ask them to find piano videos that they want to show you.
Another great way to be interactive is to teach them basic skills of how to improvise and then improvise with them, making new music together!
GET TO KNOW THEIR INTERESTS
Many students are happy to go along with whatever the teacher assigns for them to practice, but it is very common for students to want to be able to play a song that they have heard that is not in their method book or curriculum.
They might not always tell you what they want to play, so it’s important to ask.
If you can get to know what their interests are, you can supplement their regular lesson music with arrangements of popular songs.
This gives students a different sense of satisfaction in their practicing and performing, so when there is extra time in lessons you can focus a bit more on their interests.
Using this as a sort of reward translates to more overall interest in piano lessons in the long run.
ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS – REALLY MAKE THEM THINK
While teaching a new concept, make sure not just to tell them the answers.
Keep them involved in the learning process by helping them to figure out problems on their own.
Have students come up with ideas and solutions to particular technical difficulties, and then show them why their ideas would work or not.
This encourages students to think outside of the box and be more connected to the process of learning while being creative in coming up with solutions.
LET THEM INTO YOUR PRACTICE
As musicians, we’re always working on new music ourselves, and a great way to connect with students about being creative is to show them what you are doing in your practice.
Be honest about what is giving you trouble at the moment.
Show them ideas you’ve come up with about how to remedy your problems.
Students really like this; it helps them relate and see how their efforts could one day translate to more virtuosic playing.
It shows them how being imaginative when practicing helps us all to play better and have more fun!
About the Author: This guest post about staying in shape during the Summer months is by Carter McMullen from the Baltimore School of Music. You can read more about Carter and his work below.
Carter McMullen is a piano teacher at the Baltimore School of Music. He holds a Master’s degree from Georgia State University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, both in Piano Performance. He continued his music studies at conservatories in Paris, France and London, England.
Carter maintains an active performing schedule including solo and chamber music, instrumental and vocal accompanying, and jazz. He toured South America three times with the Chase Educational Foundation, giving concerts and masterclasses in Argentina and Chile, and has performed in concerts in France, Italy, the UK, and the US. He regularly collaborates with performance students at the Peabody Institute.
In 2017, Carter founded the Union Square Chamber Music Society, and as Artistic Director, he organizes monthly salon concerts in which he regularly takes part as a performer.