Piano Teaching Q&A: Piano Pop Music | The Teaching Studio

piano pop music

What do you actually think about letting your students play pop music?

When I was researching my PianoFlix Teaching Pop course, I came across this article from The Teaching Studio Blog by Jenny Bay.

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.

pop for pianists

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.

What are your thoughts?

Have you got an opinion about whether pop music has value in piano lessons? Please leave your thoughts below.