Play Piano Today – creative problem solving

December 30th, 2010

As usual, I am reading through the various articles of interest. And there is one that stuck to my mind more than others: It described how children in America, nowadays were notably less creative in early childhood than other children. I’ll post the link to the study, shortly.

As a piano teacher, I have been diligently working on developing each piano student’s ability to make independent decisions. Most of my students are K12 and adult. Being able to evaluate on an ongoing basis what works and what does not work, in my opinion, is a great ability to develop and bring out more. It takes creativity to look at a situation from various angles and find solutions. This is one perspective that I am taking my students through. I want my students to have tools to evaluate, tools to understand how to improve and how to schedule and target to get from here to there.

In an American world where children inflow entertainment and are educated to be part of group games and individualistic outstanding position is not always appreciated. I am trying to find balance and provide challenges for my students. I encourage with questions to have my students find answers themselves, rather than me telling them every time. Of course, it is much quicker and easier to “just tell them what to do,” but no – the learning experience comes from turning the questions around and asking the student to TELL ME, what he /she feels they need to do and what that would result. I often ask them: “Ok, tell me, what were the good points in your playing, tell me those first and then tell me what you see that you need to improve and how you are going about improving these. So let’s start with your long list of what you did right, or what you did good in your playing. Could you tell me, please?” ┬áThen I listen to the response. Then we discuss the particularly well played points. Because, where you played really well, that is of greatest value, much greater than what needs fixing. What turned out just the way the student imagined it, that is, where the students learns from the most from. This is the decisive creative part in piano learning. Imagination – decision – action – result. You see, thought must come first.

Then after discussing the fabulous parts, then the problem areas are being looked at. And one item at a time is being pulled apart and inspected and a way to remedy one at a time.

Rarely do I just make a list of “misses” and “grade” – frankly, I avoid that teaching style altogether. Because, simply, it would not make me happy to just give a grade, since the grade does not improve anything. Only thoughtful planning and decisions will make a difference.

When my students realize that they are learning skills and abilities in piano playing that also help in their abilities in school and for their professional career choices, suddenly then i see incredible progress in amazingly short times. My students have excelled time and time again – they have learned to work with decisions and imagination. And I congratulate them every time, knowing what it took to get there.

When you play piano and that sound is “just soooo” – the way you wanted it – your heart singing – the beautifully shaped sound filling the room — just remember, you just beat the mainstream entertainment scenario and you gave your talent and higher spiritual self a work out. Love yourself, create those beautiful music “WOW” moments…. a whole collection of them…

Season Greetings and a HAPPY NEW YEAR, filled with lots of amazing sounds and sound creations.

Sincerely, Eva

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