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  • Writer's pictureChristine Bemko Kril

10 things piano students have taught me

Your students end up teaching you!

My piano students have wide ranging musical tastes, and I love working with them on pieces that spark their interest and keep them engaged. Not only am I challenged with 'learning new music/keeping up with the times' (LOL) but also to use all of my skills and creativity to make their lessons productive and support their musical tastes and growth.

Teaching online during the pandemic and not having the opportunity to work with students in person has forced me to change and grow. I don't mind this, in fact I find it refreshingly different.

10 things my online lessons with students has taught me:

1. Keep a positive attitude! Learn to laugh. Don't worry about what went wrong, look at all that went right and build from there. Keep your perspective.

2. We can collaborate, student and teacher, to keep the student on track. No amount of instruction can makes up for a lack of collaboration in this relationship. I can help by giving the student power to make decisions, write them down, and then follow through.

3. Bigger is better! Use a bigger screen for lessons when possible. I don't always know what is right for a student and lessons at a distance make it more difficult. When I can observe their faces and read their body language, many times I get hints as to what's working and what is not working.

4. Start each lesson with a smile and a genuine desire to explore one area of the world of music with your student.

5. Relax. As long as we know that we did our best, we are good.

6. Change direction when you need to. Go with the flow. There are many ways to get to the same place and sometimes a change in approach can be magical.

7. Talk about it. Communication is key. You can be direct and still be kind. Ask questions, then really listen.

8. I must go slow in order to go fast. People have varied learning styles, and some people have challenges with the visual and aural focus of online piano lessons. By taking my time I can more thoughtfully address varied learning styles. Here is a link to a study from the Rasmussen University that helped me understand more. How to Accommodate a Diverse Group of Students.

9. Respect the student and the work they are doing. They too have been struggling with the challenges of isolation and living their life on the computer screen. Encourage your students to share piano work they have done that may not be on the 'schedule'.

10. Have fun at each lesson! This has been the lifesaver for both me and my students. It builds enthusiasm and supports the best learning.

If you are a teacher reading this blog, check out my piano Teacher's Guide and lessons.

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