Hello mom or dad! Are you looking for a fun, engaging piano teacher for your kids?
Do you want a piano teacher who is patient and encouraging?
Do you want your children to develop a love for music?
If so, you've come to the right place :)
Hi- my name is Brent Henderson. I'm the owner of Henderson Academy of music, a music school that offers one-on-one music lessons kids in the Seattle metro area, Portland metro area, and Los Angeles. That's me, in the black suit leaning on the piano.
Now, before my current gig as head of a music school, I was a piano teacher. I’ve taught A LOT of students. I taught piano for 8 years. At one time I had almost 50 weekly students. I’ve taught thousands of piano lessons, and most of my students were kids between the age of 5 and 13.
I’ve learned a lot about teaching piano over the years, and I can consolidate all of I’ve learned into three main points:
When teaching kids- a piano teacher’s personality and character is as important as his/her musical knowledge and ability. People- especially children- learn best when they’re actively engaged in the learning process- when they’re interested and excited in what they’re doing.
Kids need to be engaged. A good piano teachers knows how to get a child excited. The teacher does this a number of ways:
-Positive attitude, encouragement
-Introduce variety into lessons. For example, the teacher will have the student wrtie a simple son, or doing music theory flashcards, or playing an ear-training game at the end of the lesson.
2. Choosing reportoire the student enjoys. This is especially true for older students- teens and pre-teens. If you’re playing a song you like, you’re going to practice it. Simple as that.
Here’s a story that illustrates this point beautifully:
It was my second lesson with a 10-year-old girl. The previous week we had gone through several pieces in the Alfred’s Basic Piano book- one of the standard piano method books that teaches students the fundamentals of playing the piano.
I had also showed her how to play - on the piano- the saxophone part from a popular song- Thrift Shop by Macklemore.
So, I asked her to play the pieces from the lesson book. She played them- pretty well. There were a few mistakes and hesitations here and there, but overall, not bad. You could tell she had practiced these pieces a couple times during the week.
Then I asked her to play the Macklemore song.
It was pristine.
Perfectly in time, no mistakes. you could tell Mia had played this song over and over again. I leterally laughed out loud.
The thing is- this isn’t an uncommon occurence. I saw this all the time when I was teaching. Kids looove playing songs they know and like. Heck- adult piano students are the same way-- wouldn’t you rather learn the piano part from Don’t Stop Believing than Mary had a little lamb?
When kids learn songs they like, they practice them more than other songs. They enjoy lessons more when they’re learning they’re favorite songs.
Now, that being said- beginners should still use a standard lesson book like Alfred’s or Faber. It’s simply the best way to learn the basic of playing piano- proper technique, music theory, note-reading, rhythm, etc. But for most students, I think it’s important for a piano teacher to incorporate songs of the student’s choosing into lessons as soon as possible.
Now- when I started Henderson Academy of Music, I took these core concepts that I had learned during my years of teaching- that teachers need to be engaging, encouraging, and make lessons fun, and that students need to be playing songs they like- and applied them to my hiring decisions. All of our teachers exhibit these characteristics.
I’ve also thought back to my own piano lessons as a child. I thought about what I did and didn’t like in the several piano teachers I had.