How to Help a Frustrated Piano Student

Helping a frustrated piano student requires an individual approach tailored to the student. Many of the frustrations that students experience come from an inability to complete a task asked of them. In these cases, the teacher must evaluate the situation and decide if a simpler piece or a completely different teaching approach may be warranted. The student must feel motivated to continue by achieving success and seeing his improvement. The easiest part of teaching a student comes in the early stages. The later stages can cause problems when the student starts to come up against his limitations.

Teach the student how to play without looking at the keyboard. This challenge consists of a mental activity that detracts from physical coordination issues. Cover the student's eyes, or put a piece of paper over her hands and have her play scales or simple five-note patterns. This approach will help improve the student's skill and confidence while taking a break from the problem.

Provide the student with new material. If a piece begins to make a student no longer want to play piano, put it aside for awhile and ask him to spend five minutes per day, slowly playing the offending section. Then give him a new, slightly easier piece to increase his confidence.

Determine if the student practices enough. If the student has been playing for less than a year, reduce her maximum playing time to one hour a day. Students who have played two to five years should play two to three hours a day.

Evaluate the student's practice routine. Ask the student to explain his daily routine and help him to refine it to ensure he is covering all of the bases. Maybe the student spends too much time warming up. Discover any issues with his routine and correct the errors in it.


"Mastering Piano Technique: A Guide for Students, Teachers and Performers"; Seymour Fink; 2003


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