As many know, music, though infinitely rewarding, can be difficult to learn
to do well and with skill. Some consider it to be the most complex thing we do as human beings, certainly more difficult than
learning brain surgery or rocket science. Music is full of abstract symbols and concepts. It demands very sophisticated hand,
eye and body coordination. It requires that we learn how to think, see, feel, hear and move in entirely new ways. It requires
tremendously subtle and simultaneous mental, physical and emotional control. But if it becomes part of us early enough, it
will be our friend, our inspiration, and our comfort for the rest of our lives. In this book I address specifically
the issues around beginning private piano instruction for the 6-12 year-old child. I do not discuss, except in general terms,
music education for the preschool child or adult.
Though the ideas presented herein are the product of my own 30 years
of experience as a piano teacher, they reflect and reiterate the ideas of the great educators of this century - Piaget, Montessori,
and Suzuki, to name a few. These start with the premise that young children are by nature imaginative, passionate and
creative. That they are all artistically and musically "gifted". That if these gifts are nurtured and encouraged early on,
they will flower and if not, they will eventually wither.Parental expectations, peer group pressures, rigid learning formats
in school, over-scheduling and lack of free time, a competitive culture that values material gain over spiritual fulfillment,
and numerous other elements combine to create an inner closing down and self-con-sciousness that gradually inhibits the child's
joy of self-expression, so that by high school it is almost nonexistent, (or very narrowly channeled at best).
the ubiquitous adult longing for reconnection to one's "inner child".
True learning is motivated and facilitated by
joy and passion. Force-feeding, blame, guilt, punishment, nagging, reprimands, rigidity and manipulation are the enemies of
learning. The majority of kids don't make it through the first year or two of piano lessons and often it is the most talented
ones who drop out earliest. In spite of the relatively humane and enlightened view of education that has arisen in modern
times, I see all too often the "damaged goods" in the form of children and adults who have somehow survived mostly negative
conditioning with their passion for music intact. Some have been severely handicapped emotionally and musically, though with
patience and in time even they can blossom.
There are good teachers out there, but not nearly enough, and the support
systems in the form of parental attitudes and commitment, educational materials, community opportunities, and cultural reinforcement
are sadly lacking.
I have written this guidebook to help avert further human disasters in the area of piano instruction.
have found that by fostering a learning atmosphere free of negativity, engaging the right kind of support from parents, encouraging
participation in community and school performing arts activities, carefully choosing teaching materials, and following the
student's passion, a happy musician can indeed be "grown".