Have you had a reluctant piano student? One who, for whatever reason, just did not want to be there?
If you’ve been teaching a little while you probably have. Sometimes it’s because students change their mind in the middle of the year and sometimes their parents essentially force them into lessons.
Whatever the reason, it’s never pleasant or productive to attempt to teach someone who doesn’t want to learn. And if you can’t or don’t want to kick them out of your studio, then you’re going to need to find a way to bring them around.
Find a Connection
The first thing you need is rapport. You’re not going to convince this kid that piano is a fun and awesome activity if they think YOU are lame.
This might mean that you allow a bit more chatting time in your lessons for a while.
Find out what the student likes doing and what their favourite subjects are in school. If you keep digging, you’re sure to find at least one point of connection.
Once you find your “in” you can start to bridge the gap between that and music.
- Show your student how music is mathematical if that’s how their brain works.
- Relate piano techniques to dressage moves if they love horse-riding.
- Explain the cultural context of each piece if you find out they’re into historical fiction.
At the very least you’ll show them that you care about them as a person, and that can make all the difference – no matter the age of the student.
Make it Relevant
The music, that is.
Find out what music they actually enjoy and teach them that. Depending on the genre, you probably won’t be able to keep this up forever, but in many cases, this will pave the way for other genres down-the-track.
Mix it Up
Keep ‘em on their toes! Don’t let them think that piano lessons are just the same old, same old.
Try starting each lesson with something different every week:
Really challenge yourself to try as many different things as possible and see what sticks. (Do it at the beginning of the lesson to increase the element of surprise.)
Tweak the Parent Involvement
Finally, flip the parent involvement level.
- If they’re currently staying far, far away from the practice room – get them in there every day.
- If they’re involved and enforcing practice at home and it’s just not working – take a no-practice approach for a while.
Everyone is different. Some need a lot of hand-holding and support, and others will feel stifled and rebel against too much control. This is different with different activities too, so it’s worth experimenting.
Have you won over a reluctant piano student in the past?
Share your success story below! It might help those who are currently despairing to know that there’s hope out there. 🙂