some of my goals in life:
(1) go to graduate school
(2) visit all the Groms in NYC
(3) teach an adult beginner in piano
I have no idea why I just thought of it, but I imagine it would be fun. I have taught little kids before, so I have dealt with the one side of the spectrum. I am an adult advanced, so I have a little insight into the adult side of things. (Sort of. Sometimes I feel like I am torturing my professor because try as she might to be subtle, her signs of displeasure are incredibly obvious. Maybe I’m not the best adult student.)
I think part of the allure of teaching an adult beginner is that they ‘understand’ a whole lot more right off the bat and do not need the teacher to be particularly ‘fun.’ I do not need to be smiling and “good job!” all the time and give out stickers. Stickers are always nice, though.
What would I do in the first lesson? It would have to be rather long one, perhaps one to two hours. The rest of the lessons can be as short as the adult wants them, but the first lesson’s length must be longer than usual. I would start with a regular kid’s beginner book and read through it with them, getting the reading basics down– this is a note, this a staff, this is a time signature. Along the way, I would just teach them basic hand positions. Afterwards, I would assign them the entire book to practice (around 20 to 30 little songs) for the upcoming week. I would also assign scales– C and D major.
At the second lesson, I would ask if they had any problems or any questions, and would randomly ask them to play some songs from the book that I had assigned. We would go over the scales. If everything is satisfactory, based on their musical preferences, I would then start them on a ‘real’ piano piece but easy, probably something jazzy and contemporary, since there really is no end of them these days. I think as adults we already have a strong preconception of what we like, so it is better to play songs that we want to play. Playing pieces you like is a stronger motivator than a scary teacher.
After these first few lessons of settling in, I would boil down lessons into a formula. First, the student would play one or two scales, and a bit of finger exercises like the cute ones in A Dozen A Day. Afterwards, I would help them on the two or three pieces that they picked themselves to practice. At the end of the lesson, they would hand in some written music theory homework. I will not be demanding them to write counterpoint, but just some basic music theory that everyone should know once they have progressed to a certain level.
Of course, this is all very broad, because not all students are alike and may have difficulties in different areas and may be interested in different things (god forbid I get a student who likes playing arpeggios). The other reason about the vagueness is, well, I am not a professional piano teacher-person.
Have you ever taught anyone anything seriously? What did you think of the experience? Or if you have never taught anyone, what was it like being on the receiving end? Did your piano teacher scare the willies out of you, like mine?