"Fun" and Piano Lessons

Parents often comment to me that they want their children's piano teacher to make lessons "fun". Many teachers respond to this desire by working hard to make lessons more pleasurable for students. This certainly makes sense to a degree, since lessons that become drudgery are hard to continue and succeed at over the long term. However, the single-minded pursuit of fun may not be the best reason for, or approach to, piano lessons. Lessons should be comprised of real learning, combined with fun aspects. There need not be a conflict between learning and fun. It's just a matter of approach, on the part of both the parents and teacher.

Standards of accomplishment should not be sacrificed or downgraded in the pursuit of fun in piano lessons.  Of course, a teacher who has high standards, along with no sense of humor and no willingness to make lessons enjoyable , would be hard to take lessons from. This could well result in loss of interest on the part of the student. However, it's high standards that encourage us to become as good as we can be at any skill or endeavor. Having others set high standards for us has, perhaps, its greatest value in helping to teach us how to set high standards for ourselves.

A teacher who encourages the student, uses humour, praises accomplishment and challenges students to do their best will make even the most traditional of lesson approaches "fun".

Learning to play piano is a bit like learning to read. Most people enjoy reading. Yet, because they learned so long ago, most forget just how hard it was when they started trying to learn to read. Phonics, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and lots more were all hard to learn. People who enjoy reading do so because they devoted so many hours to practice their skills at reading. It's now second nature to them. Nobody could say that this learning process was all "fun" or easy. Of course, we all started reading at a level and with subject matter that we could succeed at, relate to and even enjoy. Patient, positive and helpful teachers (and parents!) made learning easier - and, yes, more fun. As we got better, they challenged us to read at ever higher levels, thereby building our skills and knowledge. Most adults don't read "See Spot run" anymore, but that's probably where they started.

Those who go into the process of looking for a teacher with "fun" as their only, or main, criterion may be misleading themselves. Piano lessons shouldn't be drudgery, but if "fun" is all that they contain, students might be just as well off with a computer game or a movie at considerably less cost. "Fun" really isn't in the lessons, which entail some hard work and dedication, but in the teacher, the approach and the sense of accomplishment gained by the student from achieving a significant goal. Parents can help make lessons more fun by encouragement, attention to lessons and recognition of progress.