I recently wrote an article titled "Piano teachers, the basics ARE important." In it, I discussed three basic essentials that are often overlooked when teaching piano. Today, I would like to discuss more essentials that should be remembered when teaching.
Reach and don't scoot. Often, beginner and even intermediate pianists want to scoot on the bench to where their hands are. Not only does this interrupt their songs, it also is a poor habit to acquire. Later, when their songs are fast and more in depth, scooting will make it impossible for them to play their piece correctly. Have them practice reaching for the notes instead of keeping their arms glued to their sides.
Arpeggios are a must. As much as no one likes practicing arpeggios, as teachers we can agree that so many songs, especially classical pieces, require being comfortable with arpeggios. If our students cannot play them by themselves, they will not be able to play them correctly in a song. Also, when teaching arpeggios, remember to teach them how to properly turn their wrist.
Chord inversions are more important than they seem. They are in every song, whether they are blocked or not. Plus, if your student has an ear or desire for composing, chord inversions will be their best friend. They make for more interesting sounds than simply playing root chords all the time.
Key signatures should not be forgotten. When your student knows how to read key signatures, it makes learning a piece so much easier. Instead of always trying to remember what is sharp or flat, they know what key they are in and will automatically play the correct sharps or flats for that key. It will make learning a song so much easier for them and much less frustrating for you.
Relative minors are important. This goes along with key signatures and (as written in my previous article) major scales. If your student knows what minor key has the same sharps or flats as its relative major key, it will make learning minor scales and key signatures so much easier. Then, when they play a song written in minor, it will be the same as stated above. Everybody involved will be much less frustrated.
Playing by ear is a good thing to learn. You do not have to be amazing at playing by ear, but if you play piano for any length of time, someone is going to ask you to do it. Usually, it is a very short time before they need a song played and, somehow, you end up with no choice, especially if you are a child and your parent agrees for you. There are not many people who are naturally talented in this ability, but most people can be taught to gain it. It is only fair to our students to prepare them in this area, even if it is only in a small way.
I hope this is a helpful reminder to piano teachers that the basics are important.