Philosophy of Discipline and Self-control in the Piano Lesson
Learning to play the piano, like many other worthy goals, requires discipline and self-control. Discipline is what helps someone focus on the task at hand, rather than other distractions. Discipline allows one to postpone a pleasurable activity to a more appropriate time. Discipline pushes one to practice hard to develop a skill that is not realized immediately.
The most important discipline, the most valuable discipline, is that which comes from inside, self-control. No child is born with innate self-discipline. While some struggle with its development more than others, all can develop personal self-control.
The most important influence in the life of a child to learn self-discipline is the parent, supported by the cooperation of other key adults-teachers, coaches, and so on. Self-discipline takes effect in a life as extrinsic discipline, external controls, are gradually removed when the child exhibits discipline from within. Like a tender plant which is supported as it begins life in the garden, through support, children learn to stand on their own, strong and thriving. This goal of internal discipline is the purpose of external control.
How does this relate to private piano lessons? Stan Watkins Piano Studio is instituting the Red Card Program, which will be introduced as needed to provide the necessary support for developing personal discipline during lessons. This program begins with a clear explanation of expectations-participate in lesson activities when instructed to do so, stop when instructed to stop, ask for explanations, and so on. When expectations are clear, but the behavior does not reach that standard, the student will receive a red card. This is a simple, visual way of saying, "I see your actions, and they are not acceptable." This allows the student to correct their ways, but if they do not, they will receive a second card. If a third card is necessary, the lesson is immediately concluded for the day. This approach makes clear what is acceptable and unacceptable, and gives plenty of opportunity for the student to exercise self-control. An early end to the lesson, which may appear at first to be a poor value, proves to be just the opposite upon further reflection. Good self discipline will make further lessons more efficient, providing increased value, not just for piano lessons, but for all of life.