I don’t think there is a tool as useful for teaching anything as humor. This is a favorite of mine. But it’s always a risky one: what if people do not get the joke?

Humor is essential when you have a 7 years old who’s approaching a minor scale for the first time. She might not get it if you don’t open her mind with a pleasant banter. Humor would be there to defuse the situation. As a matter of fact, most of the piano books designed for young pupils have drawings and little jokes close pertaining to the subject they cover. That’s an invitation to the teacher to keep it light and easy.

But a sense of humor is also necessary to teach an adult. They will come more likely to a difficult concept or a prickly pattern if they understand it in a funny way. And by “funny”, I do not mean “weird”, but pleasant. Humor can be used to defuse the bombs of impenetrable concepts. Einstein had a great sense of humor: everyone knows his tongue.

Humor can also be use to help climb a mountain. If a student is making an effort going around the drum kit at lightning speed and sweating profusely in the process, a few well placed jokes might ease the pain a little. At least enough for her not to give up. And when she stops and wipes her forehead and catches her breath, a great reward could be a sensitive joke about the effort she just produced.

I think that humor, well done and in tasteful manner, is a great tool for the teacher. I would think that’s where you should start if you want to help someone understand something. After that, a close companion of humor is game. Lots of games, lots of playing. That mean lots of efforts you don’t feel but you actually seek, and those are called fun, I believe.