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Ideas for Teaching Children Effectively

The following is an excerpt from The Joy of Music


Practice performance with your student. Especially when an older child has finally memorized one or two favorite pieces. For example I have found that Vals by Bartolome Calatayud is a very good beginning piece. I play the piece at lesson time with good expression and tone and usually my student likes the piece and wants to play it. More times than not it becomes a favorite.


If the child has not yet learned how to read music then I teach this piece by rote. We learn measure by measure. The child listens to what I am playing, and imitates where I am placing my fingers. The piece has an A-B-A composition:  a beginning, a middle and the beginning phrases repeated at the end. So it’s also a very good teaching piece for form as well as an engaging sound.

Once my student plays the piece fairly well then I ask him to memorize it.
“Oh, I can’t memorize anything” will often be a student’s response.
“Well, let’s try anyway. We will just play the first three measures together.”
Usually we have success with this.


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The balance of the story can be found in The Joy of Music – A Life Time of Teaching.

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