Since my last update on the book, I have begun sharing my draft, or at least parts of it, with others. The first time I did this was last weekend, when I was on a family vacation and showed my brother a few excerpts. He was very enthused by the idea of the book, which felt good. In fact, it was thrilling to start opening up the door a crack, so to speak. This was not something I was ready for while I was initially writing my ideas out.
The second time was last Tuesday, during a Zoom session in which I shared the book with five of my students. This was very helpful and instructive, as not only do these particular students like working with me and are happy to help, they also represent the exact demographic the book is being written for: adult piano learners! I also got many great ideas and initial feedback from sharing the draft on the screen. Some of the main takeaways I got from the session (other than how cool my students are) include:
- I should put relevant personal stories about myself front and center. This is a good way to emotionally connect the reader to the subject, and helps make the points I’m making tangible.
- Similarly, I need include stories of my experience actually working with students. Also useful are student testimonials, or quotes from actual students about the how the points I am making worked for them.
- I want to format the book with different items on the page that can break up the text. This can be piano-related cartoons, information boxes, thought-provoking questions, or pull quotes highlighting my main points in the text. This also helps engage different types of learners.
- While I have many concepts I want to explain and generally want this book to be a good read, I want to make sure the book “gets the student to the piano.” I can do this with exercises and specific playing suggestions.
All in all, it was an incredibly productive session with my students. I mentioned wanting to do it again a bit further down the road. The feedback is invaluable. It is wonderful to feel like I have the beginnings of a team that can help make this book the best it can be.
Last but not least (I feel slightly squeamish admitting this), I asked my new AI app about the book a few weeks ago and got some great advice. It suggested I use “an iterative, customer-centric development process” to make sure the book brings the most value possible. In other words, I should be open to revising the book as I gain more experience and feedback about what will make it better. That’s exactly what I feel I am doing by turning to my students.