The Art of Coaching
From Robin Keehn
The term “Coaching” brings many things to mind but perhaps the most common is the image of a professional sports coach—like Vince Lombardi or soccer coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Professional sports coaches train athletes to perform at their very best. They spend time each day taking athletes through a series of physical and mental challenges that improve their concentration, strength and performance.
In Simply Music, we rely on two important coaches to help students play the piano; the “Method Coach” and the “Life Coach.” The Method Coach is your teacher. Your teacher’s role is to give you the learning tools and strategies so you can learn foundation pieces, arrangements, accompaniments and how to compose and improvise.
Here is another way to think of your Method Coach. You might be familiar with the Simply Music “Restaurant” Analogy. Imagine a chef who is going to prepare a meal in a fine restaurant. At the beginning of the week the chef goes to a grocery store and gathers the best ingredients. Once he has them, he returns to the kitchen and spends the next days chopping, dicing, pureeing, and preparing the ingredients. When you come for dinner, he serves it up.
There were two critical activities—first, he visited the grocery store. Your Method Coach IS the grocery store! When you come to class, your Method Coach gives you the finest ingredients. The ingredients include learning tools and strategies like “controlling the events” and the “external speaker.” They also include learning your pieces through shapes, patterns, chord progressions, rhythm and melody diagrams and more!
The second critical activity is where your LIFE Coach comes in! When you take those ingredients home, the real work begins. You spend the next six days chopping, dicing, pureeing and working with the ingredients. In “real life” these activities might be watching your DVD, playing and checking your playlist, listening to your CD, clapping and transcribing rhythm patterns, writing measures of intervals, practicing chord shapes for accompaniment or working on a composition. When you come back to class, you serve up the great meal (pieces of music) you’ve prepared.
So, just like a chef has help in the kitchen, your Life Coach is your help at home. Your Life Coach is a critical part of your success in learning to play the piano. Your Life Coach comes to your lessons with you and hears and sees everything that your teacher does with you. He or she understands what you have been learning in class and the value of what you have learned. He/she understands the nature of the long-term relationship of playing the piano and so your Life Coach is the person you can count on to protect your practice time and keep you going when you hit a valley or plateau. So, why does the Life Coach do this? Because your Life Coach wants you to have music as a lifelong companion and knows that his or her support will be the most critical factor in your achievement of that goal.
Life Coaches, did you hear that? You will be the reason that your student succeeds in retaining music as a life long companion! You will be challenged on many levels through the process, but what a wonderful opportunity you have to teach your child how to maintain a long-term relationship. Your commitment and support will help your child not only in piano but in life. Your child will know and understand what it takes to stay in school, hold a job, go to college, be married, and even raise children because each of these require a long-term commitment. What a gift to help them mature into young adults who have already experienced success in this!