Tips for Piano Teaching

 

Six Tips for Teaching Piano from 225 years of experience


6. There’s always a way


14th June 2019

Welcome to The Piano Teachers’ Course UK blog, where our course tutors will share their 225 years of experience to help teachers inspire their pupils through fun, creative and well-informed lessons, which leave pupils longing (yes, longing!) to practise.

Today’s Teaching Tip is from PTC Principal Tutor Masayuki Tayama: Pianist, Teacher, Lecturer, Performer

Masayuki’s PTC Teaching Tip for today is:

 

THERE’S ALWAYS A WAY

A piano teacher’s mission is to enable the student to achieve the best they can, at any stage of development. It is my firm belief that nothing is impossible. Whatever the problem the student brings, there is always a solution and sometimes this involves going right back to basics to fix a technical or interpretive difficulty, but that is a large part of the task; being able to quickly identify the root of the problem in order to address it efficiently is vital on a daily basis.

It is important to take a step back and observe the student; the sound they create is so fundamentally linked to their movements that often if there is a hitch in the phrase or something out of place, it is so often linked to tension or unnecessary movements. Have patience and work with them to overcome the issue, keeping the problem-solving exercises engaging and progressive. With careful thought and ongoing reflection of progress and current ability, there’s always a way, and it is our job to make the way clear.’

Help your students overcome difficulty by:

• Taking a step back and looking at the ‘big picture’
• Also looking at the minutiae and dealing with problems at their most fundamental level
• Being creative with exercises and approaching the same issue from different angles, keeping your mind on the goal


Look out for Masayuki’s workshops in PTC 2019-20! Enrolment for the course is OPEN NOW and you can save up to £412.50 on your fees before Friday 28th June!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR DISCOUNT


Masayuki Tayama

A regular performer in some of London’s most eminent venues, Masayuki has appeared at Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall and the Southbank Centre amongst others. He has taught all ages and levels in both the UK and Japan, and taught at Chetham’s School of Music as a first study piano tutor. Many of his students have gone on to study at conservatives and garner national and international competition successes.



5. Don’t ‘fix’ your students!


7th June 2019

Welcome to The Piano Teachers’ Course UK blog, where our course tutors will share their 225 years of experience to help teachers inspire their pupils through fun, creative and well-informed lessons, which leave pupils longing (yes, longing!) to practise.

Today’s Teaching Tip is from PTC Principal Tutor Beate Toyka: Pianist, Teacher, Lecturer, Performer

Beate’s PTC Teaching Tip for today is:

 

DON’T ‘FIX’ YOUR STUDENTS

‘As your pupil enters the room you will have a multitude of issues you want to help them with.

There are scales to learn, pieces to polish, sight-reading to attend to…! Once they have started to play, you can hear in an instant what needs ‘fixing’ – and here I would like to recommend that you take a step back and don’t ‘fix’!

Instead, listen out for the one thing they play beautifully, with either hand (and often it is easier to find that one thing when they is playing separate hands).  Call out, ‘You played that really beautifully! How did you do that?’ Have a tiny conversation about it and then ask them to do it again as it was obviously very successful initially – even if that had been completely ‘accidental’.

Now, if a parent is in the room you can turn around and say, ‘Let’s have a competition – we play this bar/phrase 3 times now…please close your eyes and tell me which one is played by your son/daughter,’ then you quietly decide which of the 3 they will play, and off you go. With a bit of luck, the parent will pick the ‘wrong’ one as the pupil played so beautifully! The satisfaction is immense, and the fun too!

There should be a moment like this in every lesson, or even more than one! You can furthermore build on beautiful phrases or sections and help the pupil to extend them, make them more conscious, vary them, and so on. The options are endless!

Always help your pupils to feel good about themselves!’

Look out for Beate’s workshops in PTC 2019-20! Enrolment for the course is OPEN NOW and you can save up to £412.50 on your fees before Friday 28th June!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR DISCOUNT


Beate Toyka

A highly experienced teacher and performer, Beate specialises in teaching with the Suzuki method for young beginners, and many of her students have gone on to study at Chetham’s School of Music and beyond.

‘Your involvement really captured the spirit of what I had intended. You managed to perfectly pitch what you said and played to exactly the right level for those there, and so many have already said that they were inspired.’ – Ed Temple, Head of Music, Derby High School



4. Keeping it playful


31st May 2019

Welcome to The Piano Teachers’ Course UK blog, where our course tutors will share their 225 years of experience to help teachers inspire their pupils through fun, creative and well-informed lessons, which leave pupils longing (yes, longing!) to practise.

Today’s Teaching Tip is from PTC Principal Tutor Sally Cathcart: Pianist, Teacher, Writer, Performer, Inspirer

Sally’s PTC Teaching Tip for today is:

KEEPING IT PLAYFUL

‘Occasionally I will have a Tell a Joke week in my teaching studio. When each student arrives I’ll ask them to tell me their favourite joke and I’ll share mine in return. It takes about 2 minutes and the result is giggles, laughter, lightness and a positive energy to start the lesson with. 

As teachers we are aware that there is just so much that that needs to be taught and quite often we are far too serious in how we go about this. 

I have found that being playful as a teacher is just so important for learning to flourish. It can be a really small thing like turning reminders about posture into a game like this: establish with the student what their posture should be, set a timer for 1 min, when timer goes off both of you assess the posture. If it wasn’t up to scratch you get the point but if posture was still maintained students gets the point. 

So next time you feel a lesson become a bit heavy or serious inject some humour and aim to be more playful in your delivery.’

To help encourage effective learning, remember:

  • Play is an important method of learning
  • You can help build a rapport with your students by injecting humour into your teaching!
  • Keep your mind on the bigger picture, and try not to get too blinkered by the long list of things you feel you must teach in every lesson

Look out for Sally’s workshops in PTC 2019-20! Enrolment for the course is OPEN NOW and you can save up to £412.50 on your fees before Friday 28th June!

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR DISCOUNT


Sally Cathcart

Co-founder of acclaimed network The Curious Piano Teachers, Sally is an avid believer in innovative teaching and learning and specialises in teaching the early stages of learning the piano. She founded the Oxford Piano Group in 2009, giving amateur pianists an opportunity to meet and share performing experiences on a monthly basis.



3. Know what you’re playing about


24th May 2019

Welcome to The Piano Teachers’ Course UK blog, where our course tutors will share their 225 years of experience to help teachers inspire their pupils through fun, creative and well-informed lessons, which leave pupils longing (yes, longing!) to practise.

This week’s Teaching Tip is from PTC Principal Tutor Ilga Pitkevica: Pianist, Teacher, Adjudicator, Lecturer

Ilga’s PTC Teaching Tip is:

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE PLAYING ABOUT

‘“Do you know what you are playing about?”

This is a very good question to ask a pupil of any level, as his/her clear vision, deep feeling and understanding of even the most detailed intentions help to find a unique personal interpretation of a piece.

This can be taught from the very beginning by encouraging children to listen to and enjoy the amazing and colourful variety of sounds they can produce on a piano, and can be connected to stories, emotions and feelings, colours… pretty much anything!

It is an extremely creative process, and if children are encouraged and involved with it from early, they will learn to express themselves through music. They will enjoy the fascinating exploration of the piano sound, and they will never be bored neither during lessons nor their home practice!

Worth trying!’

When considering how to inspire your pupils, remember:

  • In order for them to find intrinsic motivation, they must first be inspired
  • Engaging the imagination of pupils is fundamental to their musical development
  • You can help your pupils explore their own and the piano’s potential through the vast soundworld that can be created with the instrument

Ilga will be leading performance workshops this Sunday 26th alongside some of the other fantastic PTC tutors. This day is open to observers, and we are currently offering an incredible 2 for 1 offer on reservations!

In the afternoon, don’t miss the opportunity to learn all about Social Media for Piano Teachers in a lecture led by Sally Cathcart and Jennie Parke Matheson.

Click here to book!

Get FREE teaching tips to motivate and inspire your pupils!


Ilga Pitkevica

A PTC Principle Tutor since 2014, Ilga trained and worked extensively as a pianist and pedagogue in Latvia before moving to the UK in 2002. She runs the highly successful annual Cambridge Piano Weekend and works with Trinity College London to publicise and lecture on their piano exam syllabuses. Among her own pupils are national competition prizewinners.

Ilga Pitkevica



2. Teach each student as a unique individual

17th May 2019

Welcome to The Piano Teachers’ Course UK blog, where our course tutors will share their 225 years of experience to help teachers inspire their pupils through fun, creative and well-informed lessons, which leave pupils longing (yes, longing!) to practise.

Today’s Teaching Tip is from PTC Principal Tutor, Graham Fitch: Pianist, Teacher, Writer, Lecturer

Graham’s PTC Teaching Tip for today is:

TEACH EACH PERSON AS A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL

‘There is no one-size-fits-all approach to piano playing or music making, and no one way of doing things. As a teacher, I aim to discover what makes each of my students tick – how they learn, what motivates them and what they need from me. My job is to help each person play more expressively and more freely, with skill and confidence.

Awareness of different styles and a solid knowledge of the practice tools are vital elements for any well-equipped piano teacher.’

As a piano teacher, it’s so important to remember: 

  • Each student’s learning journey is unique
  • Bolstering your teaching toolkit will help ensure you are able to teach every pupil in a way that suits them personally
  • Always keep in mind the bigger picture – how can you best help them to play expressively and enjoy making music?

To see Graham in action, come along to the PTC Taster Day on Sunday 26th May where he, alongside the other PTC Principal Tutors, will be guiding the current PTC students in their preparation for their final performance of the year.

In the afternoon, don’t miss the opportunity to learn all about Social Media for Piano Teachers in a lecture led by Sally Cathcart and Jennie Parke Matheson.

Click here to book!

Get FREE teaching tips to motivate and inspire your pupils!


Graham Fitch

Internationally respected as a pianist, pedagogue, adjudicator and lecturer, Graham Fitch is the writer behind the highly successful blog, ‘Practising the Piano’ and Online Academy. He is a regular contributor to Pianist Magazine, and a popular name at Finchcocks and Jackdaws running short courses and workshops.

Graham Fitch

“Graham teaches not only the piano, he teaches music.”

– AT, October 2011



1. Teach with your solar plexus


10th May 2019

Welcome to The Piano Teachers’ Course UK blog, where our course tutors will share their 225 years of experience to help teachers inspire their pupils through fun, creative and well-informed lessons, which leave pupils longing (yes, longing!) to practise.

Today’s Piano Teaching Tip is from PTC Course Director, Lucinda Mackworth-Young: Pianist, Psychologist, Teacher, Lecturer and Consultant

Lucinda’s PTC Piano Teaching Tip for today is:

TEACH WITH YOUR INTUITION – OR SOLAR PLEXUS

‘As we know, we need to ‘get inside’ our pupils, understanding their feelings and thought processes, in order to teach them in a relevant and meaningful way.  

So how do we ‘get inside’? Of course, we can pay close attention, observing body language and listening to what is – and isn’t – said. But the best way is to pay attention to our own feelings.

Feelings travel energetically from person to person, usually by-passing conscious awareness but showing up as sensations in the body, mainly in the solar plexus, and fleeting imagery in the mind. So if, for example, you find your stomach in knots during a lesson, the chances are that your pupil is feeling anxious (a common feeling when learning something new).

Or if you suddenly find you can’t think clearly, the chances are that your pupil is also feeling confused

Psychologists call this ‘countertransference’, and it’s widely used as a therapeutic tool in helping therapists understand their clients.’

So remember: 

  • Your pupil is probably experiencing the same!
  • Be aware of your thoughts
  • Trust your feelings
Want to know more? Lucinda will be giving a workshop on this topic on Sunday 26th May at the Purcell School of Music, so come along to delve deeply into intuitive teaching and performing, and learn practical strategies to help you work ever more effectively and enjoyably.

This is one of the PTC’s regular Continuing Professional Development days, and also includes the crucially important: ‘Social Media for Piano Teachers’, with Sally Cathcart and Jennie Parke Matheson.

Click here for more details!

Get FREE teaching tips to motivate and inspire your pupils!


Lucinda Mackworth-Young – PTC Director

Dedicated to helping everyone play the music they love and long to play, and develop as confident, all-round musicians, Lucinda has taught piano to pupils and students of all ages and stages.

A renowned pioneer and international lecturer, she has developed:

  • Practical Psychology for Musicians who are Teaching, Learning and Performing
  • Piano by Ear – a simple, step by step system for learning to play by ear and improvise
  • Dance for Musicians – workshops for musicians to learn the steps of the dance music they play

Lucinda Mackworth-Young

I just wanted to thank you for the chats over the weekend and the time you took … Being a great pianist and leader is one thing, but being sensitive to and caring about your students really makes the difference.

DG, April 2018

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    2 Comments

    1. Joanne Snowden
      Posted May 10, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Excellent tip, thank you Lucinda!

    2. Julie Garnham
      Posted May 10, 2019 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lucinda, you shared this ides similar to this on the PTC course when I was there in 2015…. This kind of perception, thinking and feeling has become ever more important throughout my teaching years…..thank you for this today….and really looking forward to seeing you on the 26th!!

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