No pupils just now apart from Skype and FaceTime. It's going rather well actually! Just got some hassles with internet sometimes....
Today as I was tidying up the office (hard to believe, but men do this sometimes...) I was listening to some French Baroque lute (guitar-like) music on YouTube. Someone's comment was 'we play not because it's easy but because it's very hard'. I presume that he meant that working on learning an instrument is a challenge, and the biggest value for him in that activity is that challenge. This is so different from many of my pupils: they know it's not going to fall into place in a few weeks, but that challenge is an enemy, and not a friend; it's a pain and not a pleasure.
Congrats to Neve Walsh, who has scored full marks for her GCSE performance, playing the Scherzando (TCM grade5). Am surprised that they marked it now (Nov 2019) and didnt wait until the spring; but no complaints!
I've just entered 8 pupils for piano exams (5 ABRSM and 3 LCM). I'm struck by how pupils up their game when they have a specific date in the diary. We can hunt for the most appropriate music for them, listen to their tastes etc etc, but it is usually the same result, apart from the most committed of pupils: mediocre progress. AS soon as exams are committed to, their playing can be transformed. Unfortunately this workrate drops as soon as the exam has bee passed. We can wax lyrical about making the lessons fun, but the progress is still mediocre.
To progress in piano, we have to have our ability to concentrate increased. It's an unavoidable fact. Frequently my pupils say something like "wow! I had to really concentrate for that piece!" .
This is particularly the case with children. As a teacher I have often wondered why the 'tunes' in their early stage books were so short (4 or 8 bars long). They gradually increase in length as the pieces get harder. This early-stage-brevity is actually a good thing: otherwise they would be quite overwhelmed with a 32 bar piece, if they are only 7 years old, and have only been playing a few months.
Our ability to concentrate will normally increase as we commit to regular practice. This increase in concentration is remarked upon by some Primary School teachers when they know that one of their pupils is receiving lessons outside the school.
So, be encouraged! Regular practice is good for us!
I've just had two pupils pass ABRSM theory exams: one grade 3 and the other grade 5. Both achieved merit and were delighted with their results. The grade 3 pupil is an adult in his 60s, and seems keen to sit more theory exams. The grade 5 guy is a teenager: his sole reason for sitting it was to enable him to sit the grade 6 practical in March 2019, and the only reason for that is to gain points that will boost his chances of gaining entry to his University of choice. I can already see an improvement in his sight-reading though, and is also making quicker progress with his grade 6 pieces.
Am I the only piano teacher who has to constantly remind pupils to be careful with their fingering? I suspect not. It just seems be hard to discipline oneself in the early stages to apply the same fingering each time to a passage.
Sir Walter Scott wrote that " for success, attitude is equally important as ability". He'd have made a good teacher! He is right - I've seen many piano pupils and musicians through the years and there are quite a few who had so much ability, but simply did not apply themselves to practice. Such a shame.
In the early stages of keyboard tuition, I've found that for some children it really helps to work with books aimed at PIANO pupils: when they come to try keyboard books, they can handle the rhythm sections and requirements so much more easily. But I do know that for some kids, their priority is to get going with the rhythms asap.....
Congrats to Tokio Myers for winning "Britains got Talent" recently. It is so encouraging to see a pianist doing so well, and even more encouraging that classical music has obviously influenced his compositions.
Piano and keyboard teacher based in Eccleston, south Lancashire, England.