My friend recently asked me to teach him the piano. I have been playing music most of my life, but I have never tried to teach someone how to play. Reluctantly, I said yes. That night I went home to try and make a plan of attack. I told him I wanted to talk to him first to see what he wants to learn and why.
The next day when we sat down to talk, I told him if we wants to learn how to play the piano—or any instrument for that matter—he needs to be committed to what I called the “3 P’s”: Practice, Patience, and Passion. During this process, I learned a very important lesson. It is not necessarily what I do to teach him, but more what he does to learn. I never had the chance to look at it that way.
I finally realized why my teachers wanted us to practice so much on our own. There is only so much you can teach in an hour block. I told him I would start by teaching him some scales and finger positioning that he could go home and practice. I told him before he can really play a song; his hands will need to be comfortable on the piano. I explained how if he only plays during our lesson, he will never get better. Practice is the KEY to becoming a talented musician.
The next important thing I said is to have patience. There are very few people in this world that can just pick up an instrument and be proficient at it. This is very important because if you put in the practice, you will become a musician, but you have to have the patience to put in the time to make that happen. There have been many times where I thought I wasn’t good enough, or I was frustrated because I couldn’t play a certain part. Those times just make you stronger, but you have to have the patience to keep playing.
And finally, I told him the most important thing is to have passion for the instrument. That was my biggest strength and the reason I stuck with the first two P’s. I always played my instrument. My practice was my stress reliever for the day; my patience was tied to my drive to get better. I have met many people who were forced to play a certain instrument and now play no music at all, no matter how talented they were. The passion is the drive to get better and to become the type of musician you want to be.
I told him if he could commit to three P’s, then I would teach him. There has been a big learning curve for both of us. I recently got mad at him for not practicing a certain scale I taught him. I thought that was really funny. I finally understand the hardships music teachers have to go through. I’m trying to teach one of my friends…I can only imagine trying to teach a whole class.
(Photo courtesy of Nelson Music Academy)