a CreativeParents.com article
of us "took piano" as kids. Notice how few of us still play.
We may enjoy listening to music, but were so turned off and intimidated
by the lessons and hours of forced practice, that the moment we could
cajole or refuse our way out of this dreaded activity we stopped --except
for the few of us who went on to become musicians.
Traditional piano lessons
take music-appreciating kids and teach them three-note ditties that
have nothing to do with the music they love to hear. Restless seven
year olds are asked to hold their fingers "just so," and play
endless scales. It's like teaching kids to read from basal texts instead
of well-written children's literature. In the name of skill-teaching
we numb instead of motivate.
Just as we were despairing
of ever meeting an inspiring piano teacher, we met Dennis Anderson who
has developed an innovative approach to teaching that seems almost magical.
Talk about motivation -- Dennis encourages his students to select the
pieces they want to know and then helps them learn those pieces, all
the while developing their skills without their even realizing it.
Yet for all its apparent
spontaneity, Dennis' approach to teaching is thoughtfully structured
and quite systematic. Over many years he has compiled and developed
a huge and ever-growing collection of sheet music that combines every
imaginable style and skill. Furthermore, he doesn't believe in traditional
practice, but says that once a kid has learned enough to get involved
in the music he will want to play on his own to develop a sense of mastery
over a piece. Amazingly, it works.
In his first year studying
with Dennis, eight-year-old Alex never played a note outside of a lesson.
By the second year he couldn't be pried away from the piano. The dialogue
went "Dinner's getting cold, you need to stop playing for now.."
"Just five more minutes, pleeease."
Benjamin and his younger
brother Matthew compose and copyright their own songs. Each lesson is
a collaboration and Dennis serves as a knowledgeable guide who respects
his students' opinions and tastes. His students develop a life-long
love of playing music. And while some of them do become professional
musicians, the others still keep playing and developing on their own.
Music becomes an integral part of their lives.
2000, Dr. Istar Schwager.
with Permission Only.
Read CreativeParents Interview with Dennis Anderson
What do you think of Dennis' approach to teaching piano?
Have we been unfair to more traditional teachers?
What's been your experience with music and music lessons? Please write
and tell us.
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