Updated: Feb 16
Today I read one of our team teachers Sabrina´s interesting articles and I wanted to extend the issue and share with all of you.
Dogs & Birds' Method
Sabrina wrote about the children teaching method “Dogs and Birds” and how difficult is to entertain children nowadays. I found Dogs and Birds method years ago on my research for new materials and ideas and I have been using it since then. Having delivered two masterclasses about the method in WKMT studio I always find very interesting to know the opinion of my colleges.
I share the same point of view Sabrina has. Nowadays, children are more demanding and in need of constant stimulation. The lessons have to be fun. I agree that fun is good but learning also needs discipline and dedication.
We also need to accept that they have born on the internet and mobile phones era, where everything is accessible and fast. You can learn tunes from tutorials on YouTube, making it looks sometimes like the teacher is not needed anymore.
If I have all the knowledge on internet, why should I have a piano teacher?
We, teachers, guide both children and adults on this rewarding but also difficult path of learning and mastering an instrument, like parents preparing them for their life in the future. Of course I am not talking about the occasional pianist that only wants to learn two tunes and not dedicate years of his/her life to mastering the instrument.
This fact is not really kids´ fault. Our job now is not only to teach the basics of music notation and to play musically but to make them love their instrument and the music they are playing. It is a much more difficult task now, in my opinion, because children get easily bored as they have access to everything they can imagine just using a tablet but they are children after all and they are curious. We need to keep that curiosity alive, now they want to learn and to know why this and why that, we are not imposing them to do it anymore.
First we can do it using games, toys and other elements that were not used in ourselves when we were students but gradually you show them that playing the piano is not really a game, that they are learning an art. It is like having a very good friend that gives you happiness and sadness but you need to take care about and nurture it.
Dogs and Birds book is a great transition between that state of “Learning to play the piano is more difficult than it looks” to “Wow, now I understand a bit how music works and I want to know more”.
When I started learning music and piano, I remember I already had a truly love for music. We did not have any internet or mobile phones back then so the only way to discover that love was through the radio, recordings or TV, mostly the two first. Most of the time we did not have any visual stimulus, we just listened to the music and we felt that it was talking to us, it made sense in our head. We have to recreate that feeling and pass it to our students.
As a teacher, I recommend do not be afraid about using “funny” materials and games to introduce then to the music and piano (I also was concerned at the beginning but in my experience it works well), if the music is loved by them enough it will be just the beginning and they will mature both personally and musically on the following years.