Speed Up Music Learning By Getting Your Students To Do This!

In a recent post I shared one of my secrets to keeping students motivated AFTER the performance season. Today I’ll give you another way to get students excited about piano learning by making learning faster!

If you haven’t watched the YouTube video above, click on it NOW to be inspired! Daniel Menendez’s unique talent as a piano juggler can help you motivate your piano learners who might be having trouble settling down to do the most necessary task of learning to play music: LISTENING!!!

Too often students just want to get to the playing part and leave out the listening to music part of music learning. Many piano students struggle to learn new tunes simply because they don’t KNOW the tunes. By this I mean they can’t hum or sing the melody and they can’t feel the rhythm. This is because they are attempting to learn to play a song you’ve never heard is like trying to learn how to play the piano in the dark. Why do that when we’ve got lights?!

YouTube is a gold mine of fun listening visuals! The video linked above is a great example of this. If you’re teaching beginning piano, The Can Can is probably one of the songs on your list. Use this video to capture the young student’s attention. Point out things like the differences in tempo, the direction the melody is moving AND get your student to listen to the song over and over again without it being boring! I’m sure you will find that the learning will happen much faster and “funner”!



Printable Listening Sheet

Today I ran across a Listening Sheet that I designed a while back for my students. You can use it to encourage your piano students to actively listen to recorded music. Active listening has always been a skill that must be developed, but have you noticed that we are teaching the first generation of students who have never really listened to music without video? This makes it even more challenging for them to listen to the music itself.

This listening sheet allows the student to listen for what instruments are playing, what the tempo is, and what the time signature is. Notice that the space to write this information is located on the Bass Clef Staff. I did this to draw attention to the Bass Clef Staff since piano students often seem to not notice it. Here is just another opportunity for them to see it. There is also a spot where they can indicate whether or not they would like to learn to play the song – great info for a teacher to know!

You can download the file by clicking here or on the picture above. For more FREE PRINTABLES, click here.

Do You Even Listen To Music?

While teaching piano lessons to young children I have learned that one VERY IMPORTANT question to ask parents who inquire about lessons is , “Do you listen to music yourself?” Another equally important question is “Do you listen to music with your child/children?”

I am often amazed and disappointed at how many kids start taking piano lessons and do not consistently intentionally listen to music or have music played in the home. How can you get excited about playing music if you never even hear music? The most rewarding music making experiences come from being able to play familiar songs. That requires having songs that are familiar to the student. When a student can come to the lesson and say, I’d like to learn how to play this or that song, or I heard a song over the weekend that I really like, then the lesson can get really fun really fast! And of course if the student is practicing music that others in the family enjoy, it definitely makes the practicing more bearable. So in addition to finger exercises and piano pieces, I often make listening to music part of my students’ weekly things to do for piano. There are many great resources for finding music to listen to. Here are a few:

Go skating!! You will hear hit songs back to back while enjoying skating.

Go to the movies!! Again, you will hear hit songs and also classical music sometimes. You will hear orchestral works and piano music.

Go to church!! A choir might sing, or praise team, or even a famous guest artist. And of course you can see musicians perform live!

Go to a concert!!

Go to a musical!!

Go to your basement, or wherever you keep your old music collection. Have your kid / student listen to some of these. You will be surprised at how much they enjoy it. If you have especially skeptical kids, just pop some carefully selected songs in your CD player or ipod. Look for titles that have been remixed and your kids will be so shocked that the music they thought was new is really old!

Of course you can always simply turn on the radio!

Whatever you do, by all means expose your child to some music everyday!