While many teachers do not explicitly talk about their overall objectives for their students, I believe it is helpful, maybe even critical, to discuss goals. If this is indeed a team effort, what exactly are we striving for together?
Excellence and Perfection?
Am I trying to produce the next Mozart?..or the next Elton John? Am I aiming to make you a pianist, a composer, a music producer, or all of the above? While I think that many of today's teachers are moving away from a traditional approach, there are still a staggering number of piano teachers whose unstated objective is to develop every student into an adult, concert-level performance artist! And this goal, however lofty or appealing to some, is at the very least, misguided, and, at the worst, incredibly damaging to whole populations of would-be musicians.
In his free book, Music & The Art of Long-Term Relationships, Neil Moore, founder of the Simply Music Piano program, shares an analogy about a parent asking an elementary school teacher to make their child into a brilliant novelist. Such a request would be quite premature and inappropriate.
Of course we all want our children to have the ability to read and write; and learning such a useful skill could lead to the child becoming a brilliant novelist…or just a functional, literate person with access to many other benefits in life because of that skill.
And so it is with music - having a very particular manifestation or standard of excellence completely misses the point, and a possibly greater opportunity to develop students into excellent human beings with a whole range of fantastic creative abilities.
The Overriding Objective
My overarching goal for every student is to maximize the likelihood that they acquire and retain music as a lifelong companion.
This specific, overriding objective is far more important than a goal that focuses on a certain standard of musicianship.
Four Declared Goals
In order to accomplish the overriding goal, I have to shape everything I do and say and teach to conform to this end. That includes:
Designing the environment and conditions for students to experience playing the piano as a natural form of self-expression;
Creating a path for them to learn a broad variety of quality musical repertoire in a range of different styles;
Accessing and encouraging every person's innate human creative potential to the point where even their learning becomes "self-generative," allowing them to continue progressing independently;
Making the entire process a highly positive and self-affirming experience.
So what we’re really doing here at Piano Belloso Music Studio is teaching piano in a holistic manner - differing and complementary sets of musical skills or tools, which students can then apply to whatever musical endeavor they find most enjoyable and compelling. They not only will have the ongoing ability to apply these tools in the moment, but also for the rest of their lives. This is what I mean when I talk about students: