For Parents of Piano Students
If you want your child to be functional (useful) in church as a pianist, these courses fill a huge gap in your child’s music education. Here is a bit of background on why they are so important.
There are strengths but also significant weaknesses in the way modern piano education usually occurs. Typically, children are taught to read classical music that gets progressively harder over time. This process teaches some very important skills including the ability to sight-read music and technical skills (the physical aspects of playing the piano).
The problem with that approach is that it leaves out skills that are just as important, and in fact, more crucial to becoming a church pianist. Those skills include the ability to play by ear and improvise.
As a result, young pianists often graduate with college music degrees knowing how to replicate classical music but not having any idea how to play in church where the ear and improvisation are vitally important.
This problem is significant and there are at least two bad results.
- Children dropping out of music as they get older. At some point, children realize that the ability to play classical music has limited value because the chance to perform it is practically non-existent. If that is all they can do, they have little incentive to keep playing.
- Dearth of church pianists. There are tens of thousands of churches that need help on the piano.
Certain myths that have been passed around for the last several decades have not helped.
Myth 1: Classical music is the hardest music to play. If you can play classical music, you can play anything.
The reality is that there are many highly trained classical pianists who cannot play “Happy Birthday” unless the music is in front of them. In church, they feel like a duck out of water. The reason is simple: playing music in a church requires different skills than what is required to replicate classical music.
Myth 2: My children need to learn classical music now. They can pick up church music skills such as improvisation later.
Actually, the skills needed to play church music require just as much time and effort. With very few exceptions, good church pianists started learning early (long before college). If you want your child to be a good church pianist someday, you should start them learning the skills right now.
Myth 3: If you are not born with the ability to play by ear, you will never play by ear.
The author did not start playing by ear until after college, and he is not alone. Practically anyone can learn to play by ear. In fact, there are thousands of pianists each year that learn to play not by reading but by ear. Playing by ear is an important skill, and your child needs to learn it.
If you are the parent of a young pianist, and you want them to be a functional pianist in church someday, you should start the training now. We do not recommend that you replace their classical, traditional lessons with this training, but we do suggest you supplement classical training.
That is what these courses are about. They fill in the gap between traditional lessons and becoming a functional church pianist. Young children can study them for years and can become a very good church pianist long before reaching college. These courses are exciting because they help children understand music. If they start at the beginning, they will learn how to use music theory to improvise, which will unlock doors to places they will explore for life.
The courses are structured with lessons and assignments (homework) so that the child will learn the concepts well enough to use them instinctively. Over time, you will see a dramatic difference in their music as well as their attitude toward music.