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Why Piano Lessons are Better Today Than They Were 20-30 Years Ago

by | Jun 6, 2019 | Education

If you’re from Generation X or older and you took piano as a child, you might not have very fond memories of the lessons. Perhaps you remember drilling your scales over and over for the first 10-15 minutes of your practice time, and then working on Mozart Minuets and Beethoven Bagatelles for another 20-30 minutes. Every. Single. Day.

What are the results of this style of lessons? I really think we have fewer piano players because of it. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they wish they had stuck with piano, but their teacher was strict and uninspiring.

There’s one good thing that’s come from this: The piano teachers of this generation grew up with these strict teachers and decided they don’t want to be that teacher.

I do want to note that I’m not speaking for myself here. I’m a millenial and I had a really incredible, inspiring teacher. She made me want to do my best and I’m so, so grateful to her for the kindness and encouragement she showed me every week.

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Me as a little piano student in 2000

If you experienced the scary piano lessons of previous generations or have heard horror stories, rest assured that for the most part, you don’t have to worry that. Piano teachers nowadays are more supportive, creative, and innovative than ever! Here are three ways that piano lessons are so much better now than they were 20-30 years ago.

1. Teachers are nicer and more supportive

I don’t think that piano teachers used to be innately cranky and ill-natured. It was just the style back then. In order to get results, teachers believed that they needed to be tough on their students. After all, that’s what produced exeptional musicians such as Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.

The problem? Most students are not Beethoven. So teaching all students as if piano is the only thing in the world that should matter to them forces them to be someone they’re not. 

Teachers now are more aware of the individual differences in each student. I might have a student who enjoys music, but who is truly passionate for painting, horseback riding, or baseball. It doesn’t make sense to make this child feel bad about himself for not practicing every day, when he clearly has a lot of important commitments in his life.

2. Method books are more methodical and appealing

I don’t want to bash the piano books of my parents’ generation. Piano methods like John Thompson and Schaum (it’s okay if you don’t know what those are!) were very important and created a strong foundation for method books.

But there have been countless studies and discoveries since those methods came out, and creative piano teachers have have written wonderful new methods that are in line with modern discoveries about how children learn.

In addition, the music kids are learning needs to be engaging and fun to listen to. It’s important for kids to be able to play songs that sound more difficult than they actually are. This inspires them to keep learning more!

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Luke at his piano lesson, so excited to start his new book!

3. Modern technology enhances the learning experience

I believe it’s very important for kids to know their note names. But when I started teaching 13 years ago, trying to get kids to do their note flashcards was like pulling teeth. Now, they’re begging to do their flashcards! What changed?

We started using iPad apps as a reward during lessons. One of my favorites is called Flashnote Derby (read my article about it here). It gamifies the learning experience so kids can enjoy the process, rather than dreading it. Are they more likely to remember what they learned if they’re having fun, or if they’re just drudging through it?

At Figaro Music Studios, technology has enhanced our lessons in an even bigger way, and we couldn’t run our lessons the way we do without it. It’s why our studio went from 50 students to almost 100 in just nine months. Want to learn what makes our piano lessons so fun and engaging for kids? Contact me today to find out how our program could make your child fall in love with the piano!

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My #1 most recommended app for beginners:

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Flashnote Derby

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