20 Practical Principles of Good Piano Teaching

1.  Employ motivation to strengthen or "reinforce" learning.  The wise teacher gives each student judicious praise for his achievement and improvement, a frequent opportunity to excel in the lesson, and occasional chances to demonstrate his skill outside the lesson.

2.  Help the student to develop immediate goals that are within the realm of achievement.

3.  Help the learner to perceive the relationship between his activities and the attainment of his goals.

4.  Understand each student's primary goals, interests, attitudes, past experiences, and capacities.  Such understand will allow the teacher to individualize the learning situation.

5.  Keep the learner active mentally and physically.  Instruct him to think about specific points before he plays, while he plays, and during other class members' performances.

6.  Ask rather than tell.  Telling does not guarantee understanding or remembering.  The student must think for himself!  Asking the student to solve a musical problem stimulates purposeful activity.  "Where...?" "How...?"  "Can you...?"

7.  Give experience before rules whenever feasible.  Ask leading questions that guide the student to "discover" musical facts and then to formulate rules.

8.  Relate new material to the familiar.  Go from the known to the unknown.

9.  Develop correct techniques of playing as soon as possible.

10.  Emphasize listening (tonal thinking) in connection with the senses of sight, touch, and movement.  All aspects of piano study should be related to sound, and discriminative listening must become a habit.

11.  Acquaint the student with a new composition before he practices it alone.  Assigning new material "cold" invites poor practice habits.  Give the student a clear and vivid impression of the music to help him avoid future mistakes.

12.  Provide drills in the lesson and also outside the lesson.

13.  Pace the lesson.  Move quickly from one project to the next with a minimum of talk.

14.  Introduce only one or two new kinds of learning at a time.  Until the young student develops muscular memory and habits, he cannot cope with several elements at the same time.

15.  Make corrections diplomatically and in a manner that will not cause the student to be embarrassed or resentful.

16.  Teach the student to practice efficiently.  Unfortunately, mere practice does not insure perfection.  Remember:  "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!"

17.  Guide the student to develop a practical procedure for learning a new composition.

18.  Encourage the student to summarize verbally the ideas he discovers from a musical experience.  Verbalization helps to crystallize ideas, aids memory, and enables a transfer of learning to take place when he studies new works without teacher help.  I like to ask the student to summarize verbally what needs to happen during the next week of practice before he/she leaves the lesson.

19.  Provide for frequent repetitions or review of knowledge and skills to prevent forgetfulness which occurs with greatest rapidity immediately following the initial learning.

20.  Provide an environment that exerts a beneficial influence on learning.  Good equipment, a comfortable, attractive, well-lighted and well-ventilated room, and a pleasant social atmosphere that is conducive to the student's sense of acceptance and security are important components of such an environment.

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