Preschoolers are super fun, energetic and enthusiastic. But teaching preschool piano lessons definitely has it’s challenges. How can you keep these bundles of excitement under control?
I’ve been teaching preschool piano for a little over four years. I’ve learnt a ton in that time, and my littlest students continue to teach me more each week.
The biggest lesson that I’ve had to learn is about keeping the preschool piano lessons under control. I’ve never had a lesson that got completely out of hand, but you definitely need to run a tighter ship with these kiddos. 😉
More recently, I’ve been taking on partner students at this age. Even more reason to stay on top of my game – I’m officially “outnumbered” in partner lessons.
In my interview with the Upbeat Piano Teachers, we talked about this partner lesson set up and so much more to do with preschool piano. Have you seen the course yet? Click here to learn more about it.
Have a Plan
Is that advice too obvious? I’ll clarify. Have a detailed and specific plan.
With older students your plan might go something like: “oh, that blues exercise looks cool, I’ll make a note to try that with Susie on Tuesday”.
That’s not good enough for preschool piano lessons. You need a ton of activities planned, and you need to have a rough sketch of the order. Something like this…
Think that’s just crazy town? Fifteen activities in one lesson? You might not get through all of that. But I recommend planning at least eight things for a 30 minute lesson, and probably about fifteen or so for a 45 minute lesson.
That’s about three minutes on each activity.
If you’re not used to working with tiny brains, you’re going to think this is bananas. Trust me, it’s not. Some tasks will capture their attention for 5-10 minutes, but many will be done with after 1-2 minutes, so you need to plan a lot of stuff to do.
By the way, see all those green and blue parts of my plan? Those are all things that are not on the piano. Only the orange stuff (less than half) is actually spent on the bench.
Wondering what those SILLINESS SIESTAS in my plan are? Keep reading!
Know Your Plan
OK. Do you have your preschool piano lesson plan? Great. Just don’t count on actually looking at it during the lesson.
You need to memorise it. Or at least, pretty much memorise anyways.
Remember how you’re switching activities every few minutes? That means you need to be quick. You’re going to have time to read one word to twig your memory, but you will NOT have time to read a sentence. So you better know those activities inside out, upside down and backwards.
If this all sounds like just way too much work to do each week, I hear you. And I have good news: preschoolers LOVE repetition.
You need to switch activities often in the immediate, but you also need to repeat those same activities again and again over time. So once you’ve made one plan, half of the next one is already made. And a third of the following one, and so on.
Here’s how the plan I showed you earlier might progress over several weeks.
You’ll see that the format is largely the same, and much of the plan is repeated so that we can reinforce the same concepts over time. So once you get onto the planning road, it becomes smoother and smoother each week. Until you’re a preschool piano planning pro!
Be Interesting and Fun
So, you’ve got a plan, you know the plan, now you need those little preschoolers to follow it. This is the easy part – if you’re interesting and fun, they’ll follow your lead.
If you’re boring, they’re going to go find their own fun. Preschoolers were made for play and exploration. They will seek fun out if you don’t provide it.
This is where those SILLINESS SIESTAS come in. Remember those? These are little cards that I use in my preschool piano lessons to provide quick, musical brain breaks.
You can download a sample of the cards by entering your details here.
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What are your struggles with preschool piano teaching?
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to ask about teaching this age group? A challenge you’ve had in the past? Leave a comment below or join the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook and ask there.
12 thoughts on “Top Tips for Keeping a Preschool Piano Lesson Under Control”
Hi, I really like your ideas. I tried to download the sample of Silliness Siesta cards, but was unable to type in the box above. Help, please? Thanks.
Like you can’t type in it at all Diane? Are you on mobile? I’ll email them to you directly.
pls send to my mail too Nicola… Thanks a lot.
The form above is working now Joy. Please fill it in and you’ll get the email.
My kids of all ages love the silliness siesta cards. But it looks like you have way more than what came in the email. How can I access the rest of them?
Yes, as I said above, this is just a sample. The full set can be found inside Vibrant Music Teaching, https://vibrantmusicteaching.com/membership
Where in Ireland are you? She asked hopefully. I teach music in secondary but my almost 6 and 3 year old girls tell me they can already play the piano….I’m guessing they’ll never let me teach them. Any chance you’re in east cork… 😀
Nope I’m up in Dublin Sinead, sorry!
What’s the warm-up song you use- Peter Taps? I’ve never heard of it before?
It’s a Kodály folk song. Here’s a cheesy version on YouTube if you’re curious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_ECc1pG-DA
I’ve taught several 4 year olds with success! The latest I’ve been having a lot of trouble with. He “gets” the concepts and games and loves coming to lessons, but does not listen. I believe his parents are the root of it…I don’t think they enforce anything at home. When he comes in, he rolls around on the floor or pretends to be a superhero and completely ignores all instructions. I’m good at managing this behavior in a group setting, because you can ignore it and continue with the other students. Once the goofy kid sees that his friends are moving on without him (or her), he comes around pretty quick. But how do you handle this behavior in a private lesson, with the parent sitting in doing nothing but making empty threats, and all attention is on the attention seeker?
First of all, I would tend to discourage the parent’s involvement in terms of reprimanding or correcting. I find this often leads to confusion as the kiddo doesn’t know who is setting the boundaries in this environment. Secondly, if it really is attention seeking you can still move on without him. Just play the piece you were going to do together, the game you had set up or whatever else until he joins you because lying on the floor is less interesting than what you’re doing.