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How I teach young students (ages 8 to 18)

An unhurried but accomplished pace

Learning of any kind is a matter of balance. No matter whether the topic is science or mathematics or English composition, every student deserves to learn at a pace that's productive but not high-pressure.

So it is with music. Push a student too hard, and he or she risks developing a distaste for music. Instead, I carefully choose teaching books for all students, starting complete novices at the beginning of the initial book, the Faber (publisher) beginning book. Then each student advances at his or her own pace to the next level after completion of each book.

Young students learn from a total of 10 books. If necessary, I sometimes add a performance book allowing a student to stay at the same level. If the student wants more, I also can add other books at the same level, such as Christmas piano music. Some students have pulled out of the main teaching books after eight levels and have gone to other music. A few more advanced students bring in their own music.

A carefully charted pace

A student needs to be able to read music before venturing out to other music. The teaching books allow a student to learn at a charted pace. I also teach students who have had other teachers and have transferred for various reasons.

After the student has completed most of the books, I bring in a style of music, which he/she likes where there is a continuation of learning and building for a repertoire of music.

Lastly, I have one recital a year where every child is encouraged to perform. Almost all young students participate in the recitals, a fact of great pleasure for me. One difference between youth and adult students is that young students tend to be braver. They're often not afraid to play for other people!

© Carol Zeleny 2008, All Rights Reserved.

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