It often sounds difficult to introduce something new to your students irrespective of what you are teaching. When we are more specifically dealing with teaching musical instrument such as piano, it is a question mark for teachers when they are about to pad their students with a new technical piece. They need to be careful when introducing new concepts or pieces and should realize that it may not be something very quick and easy. Sometimes simple teaching methods work but it may not work at times with some students and thus special care needs to be taken while giving a brand new piece to your piano students. First look practically appears to be difficult but with time and practice; students gain familiarity with the piece.
Before you begin:
Before you actually begin to introduce a piano piece to your student, it is imperative to find out if it is a right choice for your student. You need to analyze whether your students are at the level where they are familiar with some of the concepts covered in that musical piece or not? Two important considerations should include when selecting a new piece:
- Make sure that some of the basic components of that piece are ones that your students are familiar with. This should include notes, time signatures, melody intervals, fingering, accidentals With this new piece, you would definitely not have the aim of confusing your student. So if you find there are many new concepts in that piece and it could be overwhelming for your student, avoid it at this stage.
- Although there should be familiar basic components but at the same time your new piece should have something new and interesting to learn too so that your students find a balance between what they have learnt and what new they are learning.
Thus it is important to identify both familiar and new concepts with the new piece. A balance between known and new concepts would result in an ideal learning piece which would form a comfort level for your student and at the same time would push them to do a little beyond what they already know.
How to begin teaching new piece?
So here is how to begin:
- Revise Familiar Concepts: Your student would be aware of the concepts that you have already given so before introducing the piece; it would be ideal to warm-up and review familiar concepts that are part of this new piece. You can use helpful worksheets and new exercises to spice up the process of reviewing so that your students don’t feel bored.
- Introduce New Concepts: After you have reviewed familiar concepts, introduce new concepts that are used in that piece. Mark that new technique and patterns and give exercises and short sheets to make them learn those new concepts. Make sure that your students internalize those new concepts really well so that when you give them that piece to learn on piano, they already know ins and outs of it.
- Introduce Context and Background of Piece: This step is important so that your students know the intention of composer and subject of the piece. It involves giving them a proper background for that piece involving what type of musical piece it is and what is its historical background? Knowing reference and subject of the piece would work well for teaching them.
- Look for Components of Composition: Before playing the piece, scan it completely to check all the patterns, rhythms, relationships, accidentals and theme of the piece. Look for keys, chords and signature changes and mark them on the sheet to make it easier for your students to point them out. Identify repeating rhythms and patterns and mark them with the same color through the entire piece.
- Consider Breaking the Piece: If your piece is rather long, consider breaking it up in to smaller pieces or chunks to make it more manageable for your students. Select portions and teach one portion at a time if you think that the entire piece could be overwhelming and may confuse your student.
- Let your Students Listen Recording of the Piece: This might not seem importance to many but it is really important. Playing an unfamiliar piece that your student haven’t listened many times is more difficult. When your student haven’t heard it multiple times, they will not be confident at the music notations and will have no idea where they are making mistakes. You as surely there to correct them but it would be wise to make them listen to that new piece at least 6-7 times so that they have a clear idea how it would sound. So when they will begin to play that piece, they will have clear prints in their memory and will thus be able to play better.
- Let them Practice with Each Hand: Tell your students to practice that new piece with one hand at a time preferably right hand first and then left one. When they are comfortable playing with both hands fluently then they can try playing the piece using both hands at the same time on keyboard.
- Further Split Difficult Areas: If there are any areas that your students are finding difficult to deal with, it is worth to further break those areas down and pay close attention to those places. Do not ignore these areas if your students find them difficult to play; just clarify those places and give them more time for slow practice through those areas.
Breaking the piece down in to smaller pieces would work with all of your students. Remember that learning a new piece with some challenging new concepts can be frustrating and time taking in the beginning, allow your students enough time to practice and gain fluency of their hands on piano for that piece. Observe your students well before you allow them a time to practice on their own. Give them a continuity process along with proper resources that would reinforce those new concepts so that when they go home with that new piece they don’t find it overwhelming or confusing to play alone.