Learning Piano The 'Unschooling' Way

For years I have wanted my eldest to start playing piano.

 Notice "I" wanted him to play.

When he started first class I discussed the idea of having lessons with him. but he wasn't interested. He would say ' maybe one day'. Little by little he started mucking around on the keyboard and from time to time I would ask him if he wanted to do lessons - but still not interest! ..... didn't he realise that it would be much easier if he learnt when he was young and that it would be 'good for him'.

But...... I let my feelings of frustration aside knowing that if I forced him into lessons it would be something of a chore. He would 'have' to practice each week and I wanted him to LOVE IT, not necessarily be good at it.

I grew up playing the piano. I had formal lesson from about the age of ten and did up to my 5th grade AMEB exam. But for me, it wasn't about exams, techniques etc it was about being able to hear something and play it, to write pieces of music, to write songs.

Last year, the spark in my son was switched on. He started to tinker and I showed him a book with very basic 'teach yourself' notes. He absorbed it so quickly. I didn't 'teach' him, I just yelled out "that's meant to be an A" from the kitchen from time to time when I could hear him miss a note.
Every week or two I would show him a little snippet more. Lately he has been putting a one finger chord in his left hand while playing a tune with his right.

Last week I thought I would step things up for him. I grabbed a piece of paper and penned down the notes to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers song that he knows and loves. Then I left him with it to figure it out. He self corrects, which makes me so happy because he hears his mistakes!

Then I started him a book, with nice bright colours. You can see above that the 'music' has no rhythm associated with it ( that will eventually come). The note above the line is his left hand chord and the notes below are the melody. The different colours are used because that is how I think ( and I hope he does too) that is, the colour is used to 'section' the music.

The results are phenomenal. He plays with real passion. He has mastery over the keyboard. I will do him up some more songs like this, then we will move to the sheet music and start looking at the shape of the notes ( pitch) and the rhythm. He knows his 'every good boy deserves fruit', but this just gives him some quick success to embed his passion for music.

It gives us joy when we hear him pump it out - sometimes over and over again, ten or so times a day. This is very different to having to beg a child to do their piano practice before their lesson.

He played the song for his grandparents who were visiting this week. They liked it .......... I did not dare tell them that the title of the song is 'californication' LOL


N8chaluva said...

Patience, when the time and conditions are just right the seed will germinate and a beautiful flower will unfold.

Edain said...

This is excellent news and so inspiring!

I am sure many more children could learn to play with your 'colours' method. Makes me want to take up learning again...lol.. sadly, I have no keyboard now but perhaps I will do again, one day.

Good luck with this! :)

Trish said...


Bob Collier said...

LOL. Love the punchline.

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