“The Karate Kid” movie with Noriyuki Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio came out in 1984 when I was a teenager. Even today I still love the movie and the wit and wisdom of Pat Morita’s character, Mr. Miyagi.
Either you karate do “yes’ or karate do “no”. You karate do “guess so” (get squished) just like grape.
After you’ve gone through the initial “let’s give piano at try” phase and have decided to pursue learning to play, don’t dabble. Jump all in.
You may need to cut out other activities that create distractions from your goal of learning to play piano.
Man who catch fly with chopstick, accomplish anything.
To catch a fly with chopsticks requires at least three things: patience, focus, and quickness.
The same is true for your piano kid.
They need to be patient with themselves when they are learning a new piece; patient with their fingers until they learn how to move to each piano key and play in the correct rhythm.
They need a practice environment that helps them focus. Avoid having too many other distractions in the house when your piano kid practices.
One thing piano kids love to do is play piano quickly! Unfortunately, they try to go too fast before their fingers are ready and they stumble through their piece making lots of mistakes and really not making music at all.
Wax on, Wax off
I think this is the most iconic quote from The Karate Kid. Mr. Miyagi uses all kinds of household chores to train Daniel’s hands and arms to move efficiently. Daniel doesn’t realize that he is learning the foundational movements he will use in karate.
Your piano teacher is trying to do the same thing for your piano kid when they assign scales and other technical exercises. Training your hands to move correctly to play scales solidifies the same movements they will need in their music at some point. Working on those moves independently from the music allows students to focus on the way their hands and arms are moving.
It also allows them to become more familiar with multiple keys. Rather than struggling through a piece in a new key signature and getting frustrated, students would do better to learn the scale associated with that key first. When they train their fingers to anticipate certain sharps and flats on the black keys, they are more likely to be successful when they encounter those notes in their music.
Remind your piano kid to slow down when they are working through their technical exercises. Itzhak Perlman, renowned violinist says, “If you learn something slowly, you will forget slowly. If you learn something too fast, you will forget immediately.”
I plan on watching “The Karate Kid” with my piano kid this weekend. Whether you choose this movie or some other activity, I hope you and your piano kid will find something to enjoy together.
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