Are You Keeping Lessons Relevant? [Chat with Paul Harris Part 2]

Are You Keeping Lessons Relevant? [Chat with Paul Harris Part 2]

Welcome to Part 2 of our mini-series video chats with UK educationalist Paul Harris.

Today we are exploring how you can keep lessons relevant and use your student’s imagination to creatively teach musical concepts.

A couple weeks back we saw Tim and Paul talk about how to motivate your piano students. To recap, Paul Harris urged piano teachers to build momentum in their students by choosing the right repertoire.

A key point was to stop giving your piano students harder music, just because they have finished a piece of music at an easier level. By conquering multiple pieces at a similar level, your students will be more motivated in their musical education. If you missed that instalment, you can check it out here.

Today’s post builds on that video and of course on our monthly theme, Teaching Beginner Piano and Planning CurriculumWe will be exploring how to keep lessons relevant and interesting for your piano students. 

What is the best way to keep lessons relevant? How can you get each of your student’s imagination running, instead of teaching them boring, contextless theory? See Paul Harris’ insights in the video below.

3 Take Aways

Here are the best pieces of advice from the video. These are creative, easy to implement techniques you can use in your studio to keep lessons relevant and stimulating.

  • Make connections with past and present knowledge while teaching repertoire
  • Get your student’s imagination running when teaching general knowledge/piano theory. For example, this chord progression sounds like this and makes you feel like this. Then you can give it a label (E.g Perfect Cadence/Interrupted Cadence).
  • Continue to build up this knowledge alongside teaching your weekly repertoire. When your student is ready to head into an exam, they will already know a good portion of the music theory required.

I think this idea of enhancing your student’s imagination to be so important.

Music theory can be a bland and tedious exercise. Make theory relevant to your student’s repertoire and use connections between present and past knowledge to further your their understanding of musical concepts.

Students who simply study for a two-hour theory exam or prepare their general knowledge based on an exam syllabus are not effectively learning. Your students need to engage with these concepts in a relevant and contextualised way.

Get creative in your teaching and make musical concepts interesting and relevant to the music your students are learning.


What do you think? Did this resonate with you? How do you keep music theory relevant and interesting to your students? Leave your thoughts below.

Stay tuned for the third and final video in the mini-series!


Sean Wales

Sean is one of Tim's former students and a University of Melbourne graduate. He studied a Bachelor of Arts, majoring Media and Communications and Italian, and is currently working as a journalist for the ABC in Horsham.

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