Wayne State College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 1872-1874
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
From January 18 to April 21, 2012, I was taught group piano on a cruise ship. The cruise company, Crystal Cruises, in partnership with Yamaha, had a piano lab on board that accommodated up to 20 keyboards. The average age of the world cruise guests was probably around 70 years old. Most were retired and ranged in age from early 60s to some in their 90s. Out of the 300 people who paid for the world cruise, I had about 14 that took the piano class or took private lessons. However, with each segment, I also had new students on board that I had to fit into the existing classes. The classes were offered two times a day when at sea. If we were in port, I did not teach. Each session was 50 minutes; however, there were many who stayed to practice or just talk, so my time was usually taken for about 90 minutes each session.

Here are some tips when teaching adults, particularly in a vacation setting:
1. Adults want to receive praise. But they also know when it is not genuine.
2. The teacher must help them remember that it is supposed to be fun.
3. Most adults just want to learn songs that they can play for themselves and their family and friends. They do not want to learn little pieces that they have never heard. If you can teach them the concept with a piece they know, it will go much better.
4. You can teach chords to a group of adults of very different levels.
5. There are many EZ play books that only have 3 chords. Adults love these.
6. Adults always want to know why. They have a difficult time learning a pattern without knowing why, but they can't understand the why until they learn the pattern. This is where there must be a level of trust for them. You must earn this trust.

At the end of the world cruise, I asked those who were willing to give me some feedback. Specifically, I asked them to tell me about their experience learning music in this setting, and as an older adult.

From Barrie: “The idea of learning on vacation--especially a long one--is brilliant. It incorporates both massed and spaced learning which is an ideal flow. Another great feature is that the teacher is THERE all the time so you can ask questions if there's an impasse so you practice correctly and you don't remain baffled about anything until the next lesson. Perhaps a major advantage is having pianos available. Certainly this enables you to jump in and practice even a few times a day, which I might not do at home alone. “

Heather wrote, “ My aim with the piano lessons was to show myself self-determination, discipline, and indeed, success in my achievements. Age is of no importance.”

From Sue: “I feel joy after every class. I am taking home a new skill to build upon.”

“My frustrations are:”
- Not being able to move on as fast as I would like.
- Two hands, one brain.
- This is hard!
- I am not 9 years old any longer and don’t have the learning abilities of a child. It takes longer to understand and remember where to put my fingers.
- Some people have a knack for music. I have to work at it very hard. I am slow to get my fingers and brain to remember what to do, and then the next day comes and it is the same all over again.
Lifelong learning, Recreational Music Making.