Dear Susan, I am just getting started teaching piano and I was wondering if you can suggest some books on piano teaching.
I am asked this question a lot, so during the month of August I will try to review some pedagogy books on my bookshelf that have been helpful to me.
About 10 or so years ago I was surfing the web and came across a website by an Australian music teacher, Philip Johnston. His writings on the web about teaching piano were so interesting and engaging I couldn’t resist buying the book he had just published, The Practice Revolution, subtitled, Getting great results from the six days between music lessons.
Have you ever read something that changed your thinking forever? Well, this book did that for me, and I have used his ideas many times over the years. With humor and a real flair for the English language, Johnston goes through all the right and wrong ways to practice. Is your student “chopping wood with a spoon”, is he a “shiny object polisher”, a “speed demon”, or a “clock watcher”? These are examples of his clever descriptions of the different ways students practice. He has chapters on why students don’t practice, practice flaws, how to learn a new piece, how to memorize it, and many more useful ideas that you can use right away with your students. This is not a head in the clouds, ivory tower textbook, but a realistic book for the private elementary to high school age music teacher.
Philip Johnston is so incredibly enthusiastic and positive about teaching that it will surely rub off on you. I have never known a piano teacher who did not find this book helpful. The book is 320 pages and packed full of ideas that really work. I find myself referring to my dog-eared copy again and again. If you are looking for a book with a positive, can-do attitude to inspire you for the next teaching year, this is the one to do it.