Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Awe of Piano Teachers

I have new-found respect for ALL piano teachers, especially for those who teach young children.  I just completed my first lesson with young Margalen today.
She arrived promptly at 3 PM in what must be her very best dress and silver shoes.  She was ready to learn and had a smile on her face.  That was a good sign.
It turns out the process of learning how to play the piano is a very complicated thing indeed with so many competing bits of information that must stand in line and wait until the right time.  
We began by looking inside the piano as notes were played to see the hammers strike the “strings” of piano wire.  Then we talked about white keys and black keys.  She learned where middle C was and quickly learned to find all the C’s on the piano.  She learned about low notes and high notes. 
We clapped the rhythm of quarter notes and half notes.  She learned how to number her fingers from 1 to 5 and was reminded which was her right hand and her left hand.
She combined the rhythm with the finger numbers to be able to play “March Along” on the 3 black keys with her right hand and then her left hand.  I played the accompanying part and we had a duet.
That was plenty of learning for the first lesson.  We had a little discussion of what it might be like to learn to play the piano and how it would be necessary to practice every day.  That brought us to the fact that they have no piano at home for her to use.
So after I said goodbye to young Margalen, who was still smiling, I started looking for a used keyboard for her.  After a consultation with my esteemed choir director, who is a musical genius, I have settled on a 61-key Casio CTK-3000, which I can get new on Amazon with all sorts of extra stuff for $139.  
I’m rationalizing spending money on things like this and the books for my shelter older kids book club by remembering that I seldom eat out any more.  My power lunches are a thing of the past.
After tomorrow, that is.  I’m meeting an old friend and colleague for lunch at Kushi & Sushi.  
I suppose I will have to make a lesson plan for my next encounter with Margalen.  Hopefully I can send her home with something to practice on by then!


Blogger Gary said...

Oh, I wish you could be my piano teacher. I really want to learn. I had started several years ago but could never find time to practice. I have not given up the dream though.

9:45 PM  
Blogger e said...

It sounds like you both had a great time. I always wanted to take lessons but my mother did not want to spend money on a piano. I did learn a bit on the organ, but did not like it as well.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary, E -- It's never too late! Playing the piano is about the best therapy I know of. It's even more fun when you hit the right keys.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

You're doing great! That covered all the basics of a first piano lesson with a kid that age. Isn't teaching fun?

1:42 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Cyndy -- I'm definitely not a natural at this, but Margalen seemed happy with her lesson so I think I did OK. Maybe after a few lessons I can call it "FUN".

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you both! I've found that I learn at least as much (about music, about myself, etc.) as my students. Sounds like you did a wonderful job! Perhaps next time you can do some improv together. Let's talk.


2:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- Just the very word IMPROV scares the bezeebies out of me, but we'll talk anyway!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Do black key improv! It will sound good no matter what you play as long as you both stay on the black keys. It's true - try it!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I fully respect *all* teachers and all that you do. It sounds like a great lesson.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

what a beautiful mitzpha!

This is something that will last this young lady a lifetime, long after those restaurant meals would be forgotten.

(at least that's what I tell myself when I buy stuff for my therapy office)

1:11 PM  
Blogger bozoette said...

I wish my piano teachers had been more like you - I might never have quit!

3:54 PM  
Blogger Jettie Skipper said...

Sounds like a good time for the both of you. Learning to play a musical instrument is easier when you're younger, but this is not a reason for the older ones to start learning. Having this talent sharpens your concentration and teaches you self-discipline. Say you know that you can play the piano; that creates a sense of achievement too. Keep up the good work!

Jettie Skipper @Avila Music School

6:22 PM  

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