I've just been up at the RNCM for a couple of days and yesterday I did a pedagogy session with Year 3 and Year 4 undergrads who are pianists. Several of them have been spending the last 12 weeks teaching complete beginners from local inner-city primary schools and have already been encouraged to 'think out of the box' (ie away from the 'find middle C and this is a semibreve' tutor books).
They saw me teach 175 children (not all in one go! - five groups of 35) the previous day. I only had these children for 35 minutes at a time so it was a bit of a scramble to try to produce a good lesson
One of the students told me yesterday that seeing what I had done with the children had been a revelation to her - that she had never really understood the relationship between pulse and rhythm before and that the way I had done it with the children had 'made the penny drop' for the first time!
The students were so interested and so receptive and were asking many pertinent questions. It was clear that what I was doing was making them think about teaching the piano in quite a different way.
They are all encouraged to learn about the many different approaches to music education and to be, at the very least, aware of different ways of teaching and how to tackle the various problems that their pupils may have.
So - yes, I wonder very much how someone with Grade 4 piano can really teach effectively. As Helen says, teaching beginners is the hardest. 'Oh, they're only 7' is a cop-out!
When starting to teach an instrument for the first time, the only experience one has usually had is how one was taught oneself - so obviously this is what one uses at first. And of course, with experience one changes and adapts and discovers - BUT please, please, please, if you are going to teach, go on courses, open your mind, eyes and ears to the experience and knowledge of others and learn, learn, learn yourself.
If a conservatoire piano student, who is near to starting to teach, has never (by her own, very honest admission) truly understood the relationship between pulse and rhythm for herself, let alone know how to develop that understanding in a pupil, then what hope has someone with grade 4 got?
Sorry, again I'm not attacking anyone in particular. I'm just so concerned that there seem to be so many young/inexperienced people embarking upon teaching with little understanding of 'the big picture'. Yes, of course you have to start somewhere - but please just be aware of how much there is to learn. Teaching is both an art and a science and none of us ever 'crack it' completely! There is ALWAYS more to learn...