Young pupils should be taught music with games. And, the younger they are, the more playful the games. I was almost ready to write : “the younger they are, the silliest the game”. Yet, I am convinced that is the best way to learn, when we don’t think of a task as a chore, a duty, but something fun and playful. The people who create videogames have understood that concept very well.
Piano can be a very intimidating instrument. And, within the instruments, some concepts are downright frightening or boring, like reading, or dynamics, or building up speed for a trill. Those cannot be taught as a gimmick. They have to be done over a long period of time, constantly supervised, corrected and improved. What a challenge for a piano teacher! How does one pass on the importance of those concepts to a five years old? With games. Lots of them!
If, while I teach, I do not see the spark, the little light in the eyes of my young student, the smile on their face, I know I’m not doing something right. If they drag their feet to come to the lessons, want to stay close to their accompanying parent, pout when I propose an exercise, this child is not having fun. And if he/she is not having fun, they can become quickly disgusted with playing music.
I’ve seen the devastating effect of music teacher who do not teach with games. I see it in those adults who used to hate going to music lessons when they were kids. Although they adored music, they got disgusted because practicing became a chore. A long time ago, before I started teaching drums or piano, I had to think long and hard on how to pass on my knowledge and my passion to the very young pupils. I found that I had to dig into a secret vault, the one musicians rarely discuss: the fun, the pleasure, the games. I had to invent a lot of games. It has been my way of teaching the young ones since the beginning. And, so far, I’ve never looked back.