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How to Guide Students to Develop Their Inner Artistry

One of our greatest joys as teachers is to help students grow and develop as artists while fostering their imagination and inner voice. It is important to teach from the early learning stages how to play musically while cultivation a healthy piano technique.

One of our best teaching tools is the ability to sing along with students so they hear how a phrase is shaped more musically. This method is easier with younger students, but it can still be done with adult students by encouraging them to hum the melody line. It is also important to help the student to make the connection of how it sounds to how it feels when playing on the piano, fostering harmonious synchrony between technique and artistry.

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso.

There are many musical elements that contribute to teaching artistry, so let's consider the following ideas to help students achieve a more expressive performance:

  • Encourage students to sing, hum, or vocally gesture the melody in order to shape it more beautifully. When we sing or hum along the melody line, we are able to internalize the melody and make them our own.

  • A creative way to teach shaping is to add words to the melody. This fosters imagination because it introduces composition and storytelling to the lesson. It is also a way to ensure that the student emphasizes the important notes in the phrase and learns how to structure the musical phrase as a whole.

  • One key component to play musically also comes from the understanding of the underlying harmony. In the early stages, this can be taught simply by pointing out where there is tension and release within the phrase while stimulating their aural skills. As a general rule, dissonances call for emphasis, while resolutions call for releases.

  • Another creative way to stimulate artistry and imagination is to have students listen to music while asking them to respond by drawing and coloring what they imagine as they listen to the music. Ask them to close their eyes as they listen to the piece, then take some time to ask a few questions, such as "Was this a fast or slow piece", "Did it sound happy, sad, or dramatic?", "What did you imagine as you listen to the music? Then, play it again and give them time to draw what they expressed. This exercise could be done with the music students are working on as well, which will increase their ability to think "outside of the box" and expand their creative outlet.

  • Another way to help students hear, see and feel the shape of the phrase is to have them trace the shape of an arc using their hand while singing or humming the phrase. A rising line can often express a gradual increase in the dynamic level, while a falling music line calls for a gradual decrease in the dynamic level. This will engage their kinesthetic ability while feeling the contour of the phrase.

We are all creative beings and music can help us learn how to cultivate our imagination, ability to express ideas and emotions. For some inspirational further reading and to help us embrace our inner artist, I highly recommend "Think Like an Artist and Lead a More Creative and Productive Life by Gompertz. With a unique blend o playfulness, inspiration and insight, we are able to explore in this book signature traits common to artists and how we are able to embrace our inner artist, no matter what we do for a living.

We hope you enjoyed this article! We look forward to educating parents and students, and how music & performing arts are such amazing catalysts for change in our lives and community.

"How to Guide Students to Develop Their Inner Artistry"

Piano Performance Arts Academy, LLC. All rights reserved 2021-2022


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