Friday, October 17, 2014

Pre-Flight Checklist for Piano Students

My students often barrel right into playing their music without stopping to think first. I'm sure your students never do that (wink), but I've been looking for ways this year to get them to think before playing. One solution has been to teach them to do a bit of score study before starting a new piece.  I made up some score study worksheets and posted about that here.

That is certainly helpful, but it's a bit cumbersome to do for EVERYTHING they play, and I still want them to think before playing on everything. So, here's a quick solution.

I tell the students that they are the pilots of the piece, and I'm the co-pilot. Then, just as though we are checking the plane's systems before take-off, we'll go through the checklist below. I call out each item and as the student does or checks it, he answers "check." The plane can't take off until all systems are go!

1. Adjust bench for height and distance.
2. Sit straight and tall!
3. Check starting keys and place hands.
4. Check time signature.
5. Check key signature.
6. Check first dynamic sign.
7. Check tempo/mood.
8. Hear a few measures in your head before starting.

Here's a quick draft of my checklist. Click this link to download it.  (And as soon as I get a chance, I'm going to learn a better method of embedding PDF docs!)


Anonymous said...

How can I gage if my daughter is really keen on piano? She has an issue with theory and keeps on questioning me as to why she should take lessons. She is 8 years and loves singing. Yet I dont see a passion towards piano. Although she doesn't struggle so much with practicals, she has a problem in retaining her knowledge on theory. Is it a waste of time to encourage her to pursue piano? Please advice

Laura Lowe said...

Hi, Anonymous,
You'll find a number of articles which address your concerns at my Parents page. Click the tab above that says For Parents. It sounds like you need to have a conference with your child's teacher about the theory concerns. I'd want to make sure that the theory instruction is age-appropriate. If she's doing fine in school with her academic classes, she should be able to do equally as well in theory. Good luck!