Learning how to play the piano goes back for centuries, back to the time of classical music played and taught by highly overdressed performers. so I’m sure nobody is surprised that traditional piano lessons haven’t changed all that much over the years. after all, it’s the same 88 keys on the piano right? we should be thankful that at least the piano teachers of today aren’t wearing fancy white wigs and multiple layers of clothing. The modern piano teacher hopefully has at least updated their look. But shouldn’t piano lessons also keep up with the modern world and not stick with only the old methods?
You could say that a lot has changed in the last couple hundred years. The definition of music is a little different today. I can’t imagine what Beethoven would have thought of his song being played on a cell phone (would he understand the concept of a ringtone?). or maybe Bach could Skype with a student halfway across the world. Access to a wide variety of resources no doubt is at an all time high.
But perhaps the biggest change is in the actual style of music. we forget that when piano students of the past were learning Beethoven, it was the popular style of the time. The classical styles have evolved over the years too. so I can imagine a Chopin piano student sounding not that much different than a modern day piano student and saying, Do I have to learn the Bach song? It’s so old Piano music has taken on many forms over the years, and until recently, piano lessons haven’t really been keeping up. now I’m not here to trash the classics. I love playing and listening to Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and consider them timeless classics. I also include them in my teaching practice. all I’m suggesting is that the music of today should also be considered as part of a complete piano class. The music we play today wasn’t around back then. If it was, the masters would have included it in their teaching methods. this is a new millennium, piano lessons should evolve with the times. If not, what happens?
Many piano students over the years simply quit. many then regret it later. I wonder how many students back in Mozart’s time quit playing the piano after starting. Has that changed too? in talking to the folks that say they’ve quit piano, they will tell you that piano lessons were grueling, playing exercises and spending months mastering a single classical piece. ask them if it was fun or if they ever got to bring a song they like to lessons, and you’ll get a stern oh no. why is that? Isn’t a Lady Gaga song or a Coldplay song or a Gavin DeGraw song music? Can’t we find difficulty in a jazz piano piece? Of course we can. I’m convinced that as good as Mozart was, he probably couldn’t play jazz (not his fault though, it didn’t exist yet).
It’s a new world with new music. Lessons should reflect the changes. Learning piano new world style is a matter of using the popular songs and styles of today to teach piano. Learn what you love and you just might stick with it.