Psychology for my students #17
To touch or not to touch? Let’s debate the question.
Do you touch?
Piano is all about touch. The way a piano is touched is the way it sounds. If I touch a student in the way I want them to touch the piano, they get it immediately. And correct touch, involving the proper use of the whole body, is essential if players are to practise for any length of time avoiding injury. Touch can also help anxious students feel safe and secure, and calm them down.
It goes without saying that students, and their parents, need to feel safe in our hands.
And, of course, we need to be protected against false and malicious allegations.
That said, I believe there is too much blanket “don’t touch”, and too much slightly self-conscious “ask-each-time” touch.
What do you think?
The real point is that we know, that the right touch, in the right way, is a wonderfully powerful educative tool. Within two seconds I found this corroborating research online: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/01/the-benefits-of-touch/384706/
And all the well-intentioned teachers in the world not touching is not going to stop one person bent on touching inappropriately. The better course would be to teach students what to do when touch feels “off”, how to respond, and whom to tell.
What is the touch/no touch policy that you are abiding by?
What do you think of it?
Are we really doing what’s best and right for our students?
The European Piano Teachers’ Association’s UK policy gives sensible advice: “If a teacher intends to use any physical contact in teaching, they should state this in writing before lessons begin and ask the parent or guardian to sign that they have read and understood the document. The type of touch involved should be explained to parents, guardians and pupils both in the written contract and orally, and they should be kept informed of any need to modify the type of touch required as pupils progress. For younger pupils it may be appropriate to invite parents to sit in on lessons. It is not appropriate to touch a child on the trunk of the body unless there is a justifiable reason (eg to administer first aid)”.