Gamifying Music Lessons

I’ve been noticing that some of my piano students seem to be motivated by “passing” a piece in their books. I have had a lot of conversations immediately after a student plays through a piece that go something like this:

Student: “Did I pass it?? Please can I pass? PLEEEEASE???”

Me: “Do you think that you played it well enough that you don’t need to do more work on it?”

Student: (without pause to consider) “Yes! Please can I pass it?”

I’m not sure where this fixation on passing pieces came from, as I hadn’t been using that kind of approach in my teaching. Nevertheless, I have noticed this trend of students seeing each page of their books as a hurdle on the way to some future goal. They seem to be gamifying their own piano lesson experience. Continue reading

A Lesson on Specificity in Teaching

ImageA new second grade piano student taught me a valuable lesson in being very specific and not assuming any prior knowledge when teaching beginners.  I was introducing him to the concept of a repeat sign in our last lesson.

Me:  “This symbol is called a repeat sign.  Whenever you come to one, you go back to the beginning of the song and play it again.”

Him:  (kneeling on piano bench, and turning toward me with a look of amazement/horror on his face)  “So…this song lasts….FOREVER?!?!”

Always give full definitions when teaching a new concepts!


Repeat Sign:  In music, a repeat sign is a sign that indicates a section should be repeated. If the piece has one repeat sign alone, then that means to repeat from the beginning, and then continue on (or stop, if the sign appears at the end of the piece).