Well, research shows that learning rarely happens in a straight line; rather, each individual has different strengths or weaknesses and, as we all know well, two pupils can have completely different problems when learning the same piece. As teachers we should be able to respond to both situations than teaching every pupil in much the same way.
In the book 'Inspirational Teachers, Inspirational Learners', the authors, Gilbert and Ryan, point out that: 'Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon'! (p. 76). What's more they say that: ‘Inspirational teachers have always recognised that effective learning requires deep thinking. In short they recognise that children have to think hard to really learn’. (p. 75)
So the idea behind 'Messy Piano' is to nuture independent learning in pupils whilst providing piano teachers with a variety of stimulating and holistic ways of teaching pieces. The resources are designed to encourage pupils to become independent learners, to be motivated, engaged and appropriately challenged by their piano lessons.
It is important to recognise however that the resources are built around specific musical concepts and pianistic techniques. They encourage a creative and imaginative approach to lessons and provide support for the exploration of new, engaging ways to teach and learn the piano. Significantly, all the ‘messy’ learning takes place within a structured and carefully planned curriculum.
The eight main principles that lie at the heart of a 'messy piano' approach are:
- Making music should be at the heart of all lessons
- Every pupil is unique and needs an individual and tailor-made approach
- All learning should be framed within a structured and progressive curriculum
- All learning should have the principle of the sound before the symbol at its heart
- Pupils should be encouraged to learn through a process of exploration and discovery.
- Lessons and learning should have a sense of energy moving between pupil, teacher and piano.
- Lessons should engage the imagination and creativity of pupils and teachers.
- All learning should encourage independence in pupils through self-reflection.
I will be publishing the first set of 'Messy Piano' resources in the next few days. In order not to miss this and subsequent posts why not subscribe to the Curious Piano Teacher blog?