Friday, September 06, 2013

Paste One On

I had a conversation the other day with a very nice woman at church.  She told me about how she raised three musical children.  Music was very important to her, and it sounded like she was extremely disciplined while her kids were young and taking music lessons.  They had a strict schedule, starting at 6:30 in the morning, where they did a 30-minute rotation on three separate instruments, rotating at the end of each 30-min interval.  I was very impressed and my inner piano teacher was doing a standing ovation at the thought of three serious students whose mother so thoroughly supported their lessons.

She told me that the most important thing to her was that they loved their lessons.  She said that the interviewed countless piano teachers, and eventually went with the one who said to her, "If I can't make your kids love the piano within a month, I won't teach them."  (That's not a promise I have ever heard any music teacher make to any student.)

She continued to describe the lessons with this woman who would teach the kids strictly by showing them how to play something.  The watched what she did, and followed along, learning by rote.  She didn't put paper in front of them until after they had learned something by heart to show them that what they were playing looked like "this".  In this way, her children were playing things that were very advance for their level because she had simply shown them how to do it, rather than making them learn the notes.

At this point, my inner piano teacher's insides were beginning to squirm.

She continued again saying that the teacher told them, "If there is anything you don't like about the music you're playing, feel free to change it at will."

That's when I pulled out my very best Smile-and-Nod.  My inner piano teacher was silently screaming and running away! 

I sat there smiling, but I wanted to say, "You and your kids were getting Hosed!!!  That isn't teaching!  That is permissive.  It's something that more closely resembles giving a grade of Crocodiles for Spelling.  Of course those kids loved their piano lessons.  They could do anything they wanted and get off Scott free!  What a waste of time and money!"

I wanted to ask her how in the world she was okay with that, but I didn't.  Apparently, my outer smile-and-nodder is much nicer than my inner piano teacher.


Mhana said...

Nonsense. Any five year old can outwit beethoven or Mozart. What did those two yablos know anyway? The real key is can you learn to play a piece too loud and too fast with quite a few careless mistakes? That is the mark of a true musician.

cfg said...

A friend of mine (Em's age) had a teacher who allowed her to play whatever she wanted, so she did a whole year of Clementi only. No OMTA syllabus, and as a senior in HS, she was sorely lacking knowledge to be a piano major in college.
There are ways to have fun learning music which aren't so indulgent.