What Can't Kids Do?

It's been another week of lessons and learning experiences and it's time for another blog post! This week I found myself dwelling on the fact that I am constantly surprised and amazed by my younger students. In my 5 years of teaching I've had to get used to children from the ages of 5 to 13 constantly surpassing my expectations when it comes to concentration, dedication and skill. This has led me to forget about things like difficulty when it comes to picking new music for my students and instead focus on choosing songs that will both entertain and push them. One thing I haven't been able to get used to is the techniques some of my students have learned from previous teachers. One particular example is a 6-year-old student of mine who had learned 'C position'. This involves resting the hand on the notes C, D, E, F and G, one finger per key. When I asked them to play A (the key after G) they gave me a very exasperated look and said 'Julia I don't have any more fingers!'. Another student had learned to recognise keys not as C, D and E but as 1, 2 and 3. When I asked them to play me a C they couldn't find one. One young girl had only ever been given Bartok pieces and was very excited to learn that classical music was not her only choice of genre. I've taught these same kids to play all their basic major scales, 1 to 3 octaves, in both parallel and contrary motion. I've seen them tackle difficult songs purely because they're huge fans of Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and (surprisingly) ABBA. I firmly believe that children learn fastest when they're having fun and so there really is no point drilling the likes of Hot Cross Buns or (shudder) The Entertainer unless there's an interest there already. This isn't to say that a great song will automatically inspire your child to practice an hour a day but it will certainly help, especially if they have an enthusiastic audience! Some of my favourite examples of my kids surprising me include 6-year-old L who composes a new piece each week (always with a hilarious title), 10-year-old H and their excellent taste in Beatle's music and 11-year-old C who learned the entire first movement of Moonlight Sonata before I told her it was a grade 8 piece. This isn't to say you need to start young to be fantastic at piano and next week's blog will be all about my amazing adult learners. Any questions? Feel free to comment on this post!