It is one teacher’s response to a question that I get asked all the time: “Why teach pop?” and it is a response that resonates closely with my own views and, I hope, those of many in the community.
What do you actually think about letting your students play pop music? This is something I am sure we all face. Students want to play pieces that are “fun!” Unfortunately, “fun” for many students translates as “not classical.” Hopefully we can change that in our studios – but how do we handle the pop music issue?
I think it doesn’t hurt to let students play some pop music. As a classically-trained pianist, obviously I put a lot of emphasis on the classical music in my teaching. But I do think that students need a little motivation at times. And to be quite honest, I think that playing some pop music really helps piano students to become well-rounded musicians. What the student gets out of playing some pop music actually depends a lot on the difficulty level…
In the article, she explains what she sees as the outcomes of studying simplified pop arrangements versus struggling with the challenges of non-simplified original songs, which she likes to tackle with a careful focus on correct rhythms. I tend to take a most casual view of learning rhythms which I discuss more in this article, but it’s great reading an alternate opinion.
In particular, I liked the following reminder about how we discuss pop:
On a side note, I do think it is important to not call their pop piece their “fun” piece (that breaks their music into two categories – “classical” and “fun” – not a good message to send our students!).
Check out the full article at The Teaching Studio: Piano Teaching Q&A: Pop Music.
Have you got an opinion about whether pop music has value in piano lessons? Please leave your thoughts below.
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.
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