We all hear that the foundation of good technique lies within the shape of the fingers and removing tension within the hands and wrists. As the young pianist begins to learn to read notes, it is natural for them to take their time to process what each note is. I find it helpful to use that processing time to check their hand position, show them how to land on the keys, and to check for tension. Seeing free measures of whole rests, holding long notes, half rests, and even quarter rests, are great opportunities to teach good technique. Replacing words to notes also solves a lot of rhythm problems.
Understand it generally can be very difficult for the student to progress in their reading when students have not worked on developing a foundation in good basic finger hand technique. Show students how to drill on different patterns, and at the same time, introduce intervalic reading in patterns. It helps allow them to recognize and play the patterns they already know and find on the music score they are already learning. this kind of pattern recognition helps them make them feel more successful. Good finger technique entails curved firm fingers, good support from the wrist, understanding of legato playing and staccato playing, and producing good tone.
Understand that reading and technique is a steady progression. You gradually add finger numbers (ex. 121212, 123212321, 1234321, 123454321) You gradually expand on the notes being learned. You gradually increase practice of intervalic reading. (1-2, 1-3, 1-4,1-5 etc,) Students will then begin from seeing notes, phrases, sections of music, to the entire piece.
What is most important is that we as music teachers give our blossoming students the tools to help them feel successful and reach their highest potential. And it is o.k. to give them songs a little below their playing level to read to help them feel more successful. Find simple high quality songs that sounds good to their ear. As a result they will become more intrinsically motivated and self fulfilled to practice more. And that is the best fulfilling reward we get when we put our best efforts on our students as music educators.
Phyllis Pan from P3 Piano Studio 11/21/2017
It always boggles my mind to see the wonderful changes in my students’ playing. When I suggest they record themselves as they anticipate the upcoming excitement of recital time, little nuances quickly develop as they realize how they can phrase better. As the next students arrives there are huge benefits getting students to sit in and watch the other student play. An informal small mini practice play-through can develop through these in between lessons. Students at the same level who have learned the same repertoire can begin to play them alongside together and begin building pre-ensemble skills, which becomes a great assessment to see how secure they are with their playing. Encourage them to practice walking and bowing everyday when it gets closer to the recital. Also It is important to talk about how it is normal to be anxious and give them skills to relax and focus. A checklist is helpful—be well rested, eat well, don’t overwhelm yourselves with activities that day. Play, breathe, check the body, but most of all have fun!