Last week, Albuquerque piano teacher Steve O. dove into some great classical pieces for your piano repertoire – but don’t worry if they aren’t your cup of tea. Read on as Chicago teacher Tracie T. explores how incorporating popular music can really spice things up!
What do you love to play? What gets you inspired to practice? These are questions that I always ask of my students and myself.
Playing music should be fun, and it should be something that you want to do (most of the time anyway!). If a student of mine isn’t practicing, I always try to find out what I can do to make them want to practice more.
When this situation first started happening, I tried to recall what used to inspire me to practice. As a child I was not always the most positive about practicing, until my mother (who was my piano teacher) found the music for things like movies and video games. When I found out that I could play the music to Pirates of the Caribbean, I soon found myself practicing every day.
It is very important to me that my students learn proper techniques and skills, but it is also important that they are enjoying what they are doing. If that means I need to get some Taylor Swift or music from Halo to get them to have fun, then I do that. Some might think that playing this type of music isn’t challenging, and will not really build up technique, but that couldn’t be more false! The piano arrangements of the Final Fantasy video game, for example, are very challenging, and some of the pieces are at a level that only an advanced pianist could work on.
For teachers, it can also be a great exercise for you if the piece that your student wants to play has no piano arrangement; you can then practice your skills of transcribing and arranging. That’s a fun project for you, and your students will love you for it!
So if you, your student, or your child isn’t practicing, try out this strategy and select some popular music. Find out what music they listen to, and ask what they would like to learn how to play. I also use pieces like that as rewards, if they get through a certain number of pieces in their books. Try it, and I think you might be amazed at the results!
Tracie T. teaches piano, cello and music theory lessons to students of all ages in Chicago, IL. Tracie received her Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from the University of Denver, and is currently working on her Master’s in Music Composition from Columbia College. She joined the TakeLessons team in September 2012. Learn more about Tracie, or visit TakeLessons to find a music teacher near you!
Photo by angelocesare