Practicing Helps Me Be a Better Piano Teacher

As a piano major at BYU, one of my fears about graduation was that I would not practice regularly once I was no longer taking piano lessons. I was very motivated to practice all growing up and in college and grad school because I had weekly lessons, but I wondered if that motivation would drop once I was out of school.

 

After graduating this past April, I actually practiced fairly well throughout the summer, putting my fears to rest somewhat. But in September, my schedule changed quite a bit, and practicing just wasn’t really happening. I hated the thought that I was probably starting to lose my technique, and even though I knew it would come back fast if I started practicing again, the fact remained that I was not practicing!
Now I will say that I gave sight-reading renewed effort during this time, so it was not a complete dearth of piano playing, but it also wasn’t quite what I wanted for myself. I knew I could do better, so I made some goals at the beginning of the year, and one of them was to practice regularly again. I am now one week into that goal. And it has felt so good. I had definitely been feeling the pull to practice again, but I hadn’t even realized just how much I missed it. There is something healing and rejuvenating about creating music and in the physical nature of pressing keys with fingers. I felt more alert, attentive, and full of joy than I have in awhile, and I realized that practicing the piano is something I really need.
But it’s not just that I need myself to practice; my students need me to as well. Practicing myself helps me know exactly what it’s like for my students because I am in the trenches with them. The things I expect of them are the same things I expect of myself. Practicing makes me a more empathetic teacher.
Practicing also ensures that I am continually progressing and learning. I can talk with my students about the things I am learning and help them recognize the things they are learning. As a graduate student at BYU, I taught group piano classes and private piano lessons to other BYU students. I remember that I was really able to relate with and help my students because of the very fact that I was practicing right along with them. Several of them even commented on this and how it helped them feel understood.
And besides all of that, practicing the piano just brings me joy. And that helps me be a happier, more loving, helpful, and motivating teacher. And it helps me remember why I love what I do and why I want to help my students learn to play the piano. I want them to feel the same joy playing the piano as I do.
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