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Through the Eyes of a Child: Renewed Perspective for a Teacher

As a follow up from the annual Let's Play Music Convention, we have asked teacher Bekah Jennings to share some of her thoughts in a guest post:

I left last weekend's LPM Convention with two focused goals and increased confidence in the value of teaching music to young children. From Love and Logic Parent Coach Keri Maughn, I heard one sentence that shifted my entire way of being as a teacher and from LPM parents who filled out an online survey I heard another.

The first? To succeed, "{students} either need to fall in love with you or with the piano." I've always been prepared to teach. I can tell you why we are doing each activity or what the theory is behind each concept. I run a happy, energetic class. I smile, I'm silly, I'm over-the-top crazy during the puppet shows, but I'm not sure my students "fall in love with me." I never want to try to supplant a parent's role in their child's life, but when I heard this statement,I knew that if a child has fallen in love with me, he will be willing to fix his yellow chord fingering, to play his bug scales, to try inversions. I'll be honest, playing the piano is not instant gratification. The joy of really playing fluidly, accompanying someone or sight-reading your favorite piece well can come years after you first learn middle C and after hundreds of hours at the piano. So until my students can love the piano in a real, meaningful way, I want to be the teacher they can love to play it for, so that someday they will love it for themselves.

The second statement? "Parents attend class with their children to bond with them." I follow my lesson plan when it says to have mom play the piano, or to do flashcards with mom, but I haven't actively created moments throughout class to bond parents and children. This is my number one priority from now on. If I can create an environment that strengthens the family by bonding the parent and child, I have succeeded as a teacher. And if the child happens to learn piano along the way--and they all do to varying degrees--that's a bonus!

Having this clear view of my role as a teacher definitely strengthens my confidence in the value of what I am doing, but it also helped to hear an hour-long presentation by Marlene Hinton, PhD (curriculum and instruction), on how the brain "files" information for later use and why the brain finds meaning in some experiences and not in others. My confidence was soaring by the time LPM founder Shelle Soelberg finished her presentation summarizing some of the brain research that shapes LPM's early childhood and piano philosophy. Realizing that the LPM experience hardwires the mind for growth, and not just in piano, motivates me to teach more joyfully and to celebrate any progress, no matter how small.

Rebekah Jennings is a mother of five,

has a B.A. in music education, is the

has taught Let's Play Music for four years.

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