Please don’t “teach” piano

I can’t start writing this post without talking about my own learning experience.

I wish I had better teachers right from the start. I do. But I didn’t – that’s why I always wanted to be the best teacher for my students, but that’s another story.

Now, being a “teacher” is different from an “instructor” – those who “instruct” give you “instructions” to follow. It implies that you as a student do not have to think about what to do but just to do it regardless. It’s the rule: how can you not do it when your “teacher” tells you to? (I really mean “instructor”)

To teach means something rather different. The word “teach” means the following:

To impart knowledge to someone
To cause (someone) to learn or understand something by example or experience.

Although the word “teach” also means to instruct, it means so much more than giving directions just to be followed strictly. I would focus more on the “knowledge” part.

To have a knowledge in a topic is very meaningful and powerful. I don’t know if you know anyone whom you would refer to as someone very “knowledgeable” in a field/topic (think about it now), how would you describe that person when s/he talks about that field/topic? Isn’t it like s/he knows every single thing in that topic, the details, the questions, the answers, the problems, the solutions, and s/he is genuinely interested in conversing with you about it, and is eager to show you what’s there?

That’s the power of knowledge. And you can find it in any topics, any skills, and any fields. In case of this piano thing, a teacher is there to “impart knowledge” in a student, and that would require first of all that teacher knows that knowledge (at least a lot of it) before s/he can deliver that knowledge to the student.

Knowledge is not fixed however. And it should always be growing. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s knowledge. And for me, that’s exciting news, because it’s always interesting to be more knowledgeable in a topic I enjoy learning about.

People think that it’s easy to be those who are talented and famous, because they are talented and famous. But do you know how much time and effort they put into honing their skills in whatever fields they are in? I am not saying everyone wants and needs to be that in one field in particular, certainly not in piano playing or teaching! What I mean is, it requires effort and skills. And if you learn smart and efficient, you will have better skills in shorter time.

I always tell my students, “start thinking!”, “start reading!”, “start creating!”, and “start training!”. You can waste one more day to not hone that skill that belongs to you, but why?

Teresa Wong

P.S. Oh, I seemed to have derailed from my topic. Well, people, don’t teach if you don’t want to teach. Don’t teach if you don’t know how to teach. If you dont’ know how to teach well, please learn more to improve your teaching skills and have more knowledge in music and piano and playing, you owe this to your students, you really do. The last thing I hate is to see another student ruined by a so-called “teacher”.

P.P.S. Hey “students”, you are there to learn from your teachers.If you have a found a great teacher, please do not waste his/her time. Tell her/him you can’t have lessons anymore because you are “lazy, “don’t have time for lessons and/ practice, “don’t have money for lessons/a decent piano”, “too busy at school/work/sleepover/parties/travel/celebration/family gatherings/holidays/valentine’s day/dragon boat festival” etc etc. Just make up an excuse to leave. Thank you very much.

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