Piano Students in the Real World

Last December I posted about Students Performing Without Teacher Knowledge. As I mentioned then, I whole-heartedly believe in the importance of letting students use their musical skills in lots of various outlets. My students usually fill me in on events and opportunities before they happen, but either way, I think it’s great for them to be musically involved in the community. As I was thinking back over the spring semester and wondering why I felt worn out trying to keep up with my students, I began compiling a list of special opportunities or situations that my students had this year that have required extra work on both of our parts to locate, acquire, and prepare the necessary music.

I’m thinking this also helps explain why I don’t do weekly lesson planning 🙂 (there are always new and exciting things popping up and we like having the freedom to adapt within the structure of our yearly practice incentive theme). The more things I listed out, the more excited I got! This is what makes music so much more than just a personal endeavor. This is how we take the talents God has given us and invest and multiply them (Matthew 25:14-30). This is piano students in the real world…

  • asked to compose and play several pieces for a special event.
  • young friend wants to learn to play piano, so student began teaching them the basics.
  • received request to start accompanying the praise band at church, playing from lead sheets.
  • wants to be in upcoming competition; needs flashy piece that can be learned quickly. Oh, and asked to play for brother’s wedding, so needs a collection of wedding songs to learn as well.
  • invited to play for special church service; must learn hymn and several praise songs by following week.
  • heard a cool song on YouTube; wants help tracking down sheet music and learning it.
  • needs two contrasting pieces to learn and memorize for a competition in a couple months.
  • will be playing background music at a community event; needs 10-15 minutes worth of appropriate music.
  • dad signed student up to play special music at church; need to learn several songs and arrange them so that they fill the allotted time frame.
  • getting bored with beginner songs and parent requests some variety to add challenge and excitement.
  • excited about upcoming studio recital and requests a specific style of piece to learn for the occasion.
  • asked to play other instrument parts on keyboard with an ensemble group.
  • church is preparing for an upcoming program and music director asks student to be the pianist; must learn a dozen songs in less than a month.
  • parents request that student be given more hymns to learn and play for the family.
  • found simplified arrangement of Fur Elise and starts working on it, even though it’s a harder level than current repertoire.
  • assigned to play offertory at church in several weeks; needs to have an arrangement learned and ready quickly.
  • friend is getting married and asks student to play for prelude, processional, recessional, and postlude; specific music arrangements written for string and piano ensemble must be learned in two weeks.
  • wants to compile a collection of original pieces and needs help notating and preparing for publication.
  • suffers broken wrist from an accident and must learn to play music for one hand alone.
  • asked by vocalist to accompany for contest next week.
  • wants to participate in school talent show; audition is next week.
  • asked by friend to play duet in upcoming community festival; need to select and prepare music.
  • requested to perform special music for a large convention.
  • encouraged to put together a compilation CD as a special gift for Grandma.

These are the kinds of things that truly make teaching an adventure. And even though it does require a lot of extra time and work that wasn’t part of the original plan, it is so worth it!

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