"I Want to Learn...But am I Teachable?" - Jacqueline Courson
“I Want to Learn…But am I Teachable?” ?>

“I Want to Learn…But am I Teachable?”

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Does this sound like you: interested in getting into piano for a long time, debating whether or not to take lessons and asking yourself “am I teachable?”

Or maybe you’re a parent and your child has been asking for lessons but you’re worried it’s “just a phase.”

First things first, you or your child inherently holds the potential to be taught: the first requirement of becoming a musician is the desire, or passion, to become a musician. If you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t be reading this. How far you go with music hinges upon perseverance, practice and perpetual effort. All together, these are what I call “The Four ‘P’s of Piano”!

 

The Four ‘P’s of Piano

 

Passion

While musical talent and the musical “gift” certainly exist, if you are considering lessons then you more than likely have enough potential to take up the piano. Your potential is manifested in your desire to learn. The ability to play music is a combination of both “raw talent” and education. With little or no music education, music headphones and a note that says music equals lifesome people have a natural gift to replicate familiar songs, feel the beat or hear nuances of pitch, while others can acquire these skills with training and additional understanding.

If you are drawn to music, constantly singing or humming your favorite songs to yourself, tapping your fingers and your feet, and you want to learn, even if you don’t fall in that “raw talent” pool you can be taught. If you’ve attempted to learn before you may be a bit skeptical. However, please consider that you may not have had the right teacher or it may not have been the right time in your life.

 

Perseverance

Taking on a new skill and reaching the levels or success requires work. If your desire is strong enough, it will make perseverance easier – but you will still need perseverance.

per·se·ver·ance
/ˌpərsəˈvirəns/
noun
1. steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

“his perseverance with the technique illustrates his single-mindedness”
synonyms: persistence, tenacity, determination, staying power, indefatigability, steadfastness,purposefulness;

This will be a new adventure for you, so you will be trying many unfamiliar things – the way you move your fingers, using your fingers to press down the heavy keys, counting the rhythms, playing with a metronome (gasp!), and so on. As long as you are willing to give it time, you’ll be great! If you take lessons with me, I will also be there to coach you through it all and prevent you from taking on habits that will haunt you in the long run. For example, we’re not going anywhere near “Every Good Boy Does Fine” (horrible mnemonic device! Don’t Google it if you don’t already know what it is!). As my student, you’re also always encouraged to let me know what you’re thinking, if I haven’t already picked up on it. We’re in it together!

 

(Consistent) Practice

While you are learning, you will need to develop a consistent practice. This means a daily practice of 10-15 minutes (or more if you’re really in love with it!). If your discipline isn’t particularly great, this will be a challenge even if you have the desire. Just remember the most difficult part is walking over to the piano and sitting down. Seriously.

 

Perpetual Effort

Perpetual (or continued) effort is also known as “the long haul” – that lifelong commitment you make to practicing and learning. But if you want it, that shouldn’t be tough, right? That’s just keeping your goals front-of-mind! When you are my student, we will continue to link everything back to your goals. This way, you know why you’re working on what you’re working on and we keep your motivation high.

per·pet·u·al
/pərˈpeCH(əw)əl/
adjective
1. never ending or changing.
“deep caves in perpetual darkness”

synonyms: everlasting, never-ending, eternal, permanent, unending, endless, without end,lasting, long-lasting, constant, abiding, enduring, perennial, timeless, ageless,deathless, undying, immortal;

2. occurring repeatedly; so frequent as to seem endless and uninterrupted.
“their perpetual money worries”

synonyms: interminable, incessant, ceaseless, endless, without respite, relentless, unrelenting,persistent, continual, continuous, nonstop, never-ending, recurrent, repeated,unremitting, sustained, around/round-the-clock, chronic, unabating;

Keeping it fun

The other challenge of maintaining continued effort is the threat of the work becoming less than enjoyable. For example, scales are not (usually) the most enjoyable exercise, and while I can explain to you all day long that they will make you a better improv player, make your Mozart sight reading so much easier, or that they will help the songs in your soul flow right out of your fingers… if you’re not enjoying scales, or that information doesn’t help you enjoy scales, you’re going to get bored.

Don’t get me wrong, I will assign scales. However, in addition to scales you will have plenty of other material to keep your attention. I’m picking on scales because they have a bad reputation, but this is my promise to you, my student: I promise to always give a “spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down” with any of your least favorite assignments. I can always tell what’s the least favorite, but just in case I don’t pick up on it you are always encouraged to let me know!

 

So, yes… You are teachable.

man photographing a man playing a grand piano in the middle of park by fountain…the rest is just work! And probably some of the most enjoyable, rewarding work of your life.


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