Teen Students: A Heart Wants What a Heart Wants

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I have people in my house that sleep in my beds, yet refuse to make them; eat my food at midnight, and leave dishes in the sink; and, have strong opinions about literally everything.  Yet, these people can be the most delightful individuals, except when they’re not!  TEENS!

Teens. They are my favorite students. They’ve developed skills in reading, hearing, playing and even writing music, though not necessarily all of them, nor in that order.

To me, pre-teens and teens are DELIGHTFUL To many a classically trained teacher, however, these individuals can rank anywhere from challenging, to a nightmare, At about age 11 or 12, many students ‘want to play what they want to play.’ (Read) This is not necessarily what a teacher finds "easiest" to teach.

What is a teacher do?

If you’ve parented a teen for a few years, you’ve probably learned that as long as he honors your family values and his actions are in his best interest, compromise in the small things, often goes a long way.

When my teen musician grew his hair long, I gritted my teeth and allowed it. He didn’t drink or take drugs. He played in the church band. I hated the hair, but it stayed. Today, that phase has ended, and he sports a stylish, short hair cut.

As a music teacher, I say, "SAME" (in teen vernacular) to this parenting practice:  As long as his actions are in his best interest, compromise in the small things, often goes a long way.

As a music teacher, I allow older students to lead in the genres and styles of music that they would like to play. Now is the time that he will find his voice in music.

Not that he’ll become a singer, but that he’ll find the music, and a way of expressing music that will speak to his soul. In my mind, it is no coincidence that the word “ear” is a fundamental part of the words “hear” and “heart”.Music is heard by entering the ear and then subtly permeates the heart.

A hypothetical question: What have I done, if I squelch a teen’s request to play what “he wants to play,” in favor of teaching him according to the 'Best Practices of a Classical Music Teacher?'

On on hand, I may produce a few really great Classical musicians; moreover, I may miss the opportunity to help the majority of students find their “voice” in music. Some teachers frown upon Pop/Film music.  I, on the other hand, truly enjoy playing this genre, but, more importantly I believe that, if this music speaks to your child and keeps them creating on the piano, I support it.

Okay, I can hear you asking, “What can my teen learn in playing pop music?”

Most all pop/film music is written in fundamental chord progressions (the building blocks of music). And,  pop sheet music includes lessons in fingering, rhythm, and dynamics that will leave most all of our heads swimming.

Though some is difficult to read and play, I say, “Where there is a will there is a way.” And, “What a heart wants, a heart wants.” Enough cliches already.  Rest assured, that if music is too challenging, it leaves an excellent opportunity to learn improvisation.

You get the point. If your student has learned the fundamentals of piano, these genres can allow him to push further into playing by and with his heart.  I wholeheartedly support all genres of music in my studio.

God didn't create all of us the same.  Why should we all enjoy the same types of music?

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