As a musician I naturally want my students to drink deep of music, learn about its history, and play to the best of their ability. I also believe the methods of music learning are as important as the content. Music engages the whole self, providing music teachers with a unique opportunity to engage deeply with a student's basic approach to the world. I teach piano in order to help my students acquire skills that can be applied to all areas of their lives:
- Coordination: Pianists must successfully coordinate their auditory, kinaesthetic, tactile, and visual senses in order to practice and perform. High levels of coordination heighten awareness and improve the ease of learning new skills or handling unexpected situations.
- Critical Thinking: Through practice, piano students learn to correctly identify the root causes of a mistake and to select among a variety of approaches to find the most successful solution.
- Focus: Piano lessons are difficult because for many children because their bodies want to move and piano seems like a sedentary activity. In taking piano lessons, they learn to focus their energy and direct it toward a goal. The ability to focus and remove distractions is a crucial skill for 21st-century life.
- Listening: Young pianists learn to listen to themselves in order to assess their playing. The same skills used in identifying pitches and rhythms help them discriminate between minute differences in human speech, improving language skills and the ability to connect emotionally. The ability to listen deeply and without judgment is the cornerstone of effective interpersonal communication.
- Perspective: Through studying musical theory, students learn to connect seemingly disparate pieces of information into new frameworks. These same analytical skills help them navigate complex social, academic, and business environments more effectively.
- Technique: I define technique as the ability to safely and effectively modify one's approach to a given problem based on context. There is no single “correct” piano technique that remains unchanged across every musical style and time period, just as there is no single approach that will allow us to overcome life hurdles with 100% effectiveness every time. Piano students learn to adapt their physical, mental, and emotional strategies to the situation at hand.
In learning these skills, piano students develop confidence in their musical abilities. As they continue developing musically, they learn to apply the skills in ways outside of music, gaining confidence in other areas of their lives as well.