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A little story - I just got home from an extraordinary performance by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra of Petrushka at the Arts Centre Melbourne. Bravo to the orchestra!

There was a little girl and her dad sitting next to me.

She was fascinated at the beginning, laughing and talking with her dad. After a while though, she got bored and her dad in vain to show her how to appreciate the incredible pianist. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and they left after the first break.

Which got me thinking - some parents believe that kids should listen to masterpieces from e.g. Mozart and Chopin in order to become great at music - concert pianos one and all. However, to inspire a kid is different from an adult.

As an analogy, average adults have more taste buds in their tongue so that they may enjoy food and herbs and spices. For babies or kids, their taste buds haven’t developed yet to appreciate the complexity and subtlety of herbal flavour. Even though they might know it is healthy, they won’t enjoy it as much as adults do.

Kids who don’t like classical music at an early age doesn’t mean that they have no talent in music and should not waste money and effort on learning instruments like piano.

Throughout a decade plus of my teaching career, I’ve had students who are forced to learn piano in the way that their parents wanted. For example, yesterday I was talking to a mother after my piano lesson with her daughter. She said her friends forced their children to learn piano with extreme ambitions. Soon after the children finished grade 8, they never touched the piano again - they seriously hated piano to death!

Learning piano is supposed to be fun, and also be beneficial to different parts of our brain. Piano learners don’t need to set themselves an unrealistic goal to play like Lang Lang or Evgeny Kissin. After all, learning sport doesn’t mean we should become olympic athletes.

So give your kids a chance to explore and learn to love music from their own perspective.

There are so many beautiful and fun songs for piano beginners but teachers might not demonstrate if they merely focus on AMEB syllabus and exams.

And that’s a wonderful thing!

Grace Newstead is a qualified piano teacher based in South Yarra, tutoring in English, Cantonese or Mandarin. To get in touch please click here

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