People are disgusted with learning an instrument. It happens all too often in this form: an adult comes into my studio and tells me that they were forced to play the piano when they were kids. They hated it. The teacher was tough, the parents didn’t negotiate, the practice was a chore, the times were a wasted.. Now, though, they are ready to tackle the challenge one more time. Or they want their child to try it.
What a difficult situation! What a difficult situation for them, for me. They are coming to the study of music with bad feelings.
So, what am I to do?
Play! Literally: play! I need to have some exercises that will keep the fun and the motivation alive. Whether the lesson is for the grown up or the child, I need to custom design exercises that will have them amused, intrigued, challenged, excited. I need to replace the bad feelings they experienced with the good ones I think are necessary to study music. To really study music.
Now, with children, the task is even easier. Kids want to have fun. And fun is not necessarily just going fast on a park slide or eating something delicious. Fun can also be in the thrill of the difficulty conquered, the task mastered, the challenge dominated. Nothing is more fun than learning. Nothing! Video games creators understood that very well, each video game has a learning curve. Once you know how to play the game, it is almost over. That is why you have different levels, different stories, characters, environments, situations, etc… Because learning is the best fun!
And then, there is also time! Children have all the time in the world. They do not need to start with the mind set that they will become professional musicians, or concert pianists. No, they don’t! They can progress at their own pace. Some faster than others. But, and it is a constant rule, they all progress fast. They can’t help it: they want to grow, to expand, to learn.
Let’s look at the way mammals learn, shall we? The little lion cub play-fight with his brothers and sisters. That is how he learns the basic of survival. The little bear or raccoon does the same. Playful behavior is in our DNA. That is the source of a lot of knowledge. I would even dare to say that musicians understood that very well. Want proof? We PLAY an instrument, don’t we. Nuff said!