Four Steps To Tune Your Students Up Like A Piano

People love other people’s life stories, especially those with the jackpot included. We’re always looking for a clue on how to be wealthy and successful; we want to know the magical recipe.

Give your students such a story, base your lesson plan on an article about Zuckerberg’s or Tracy’s fairy-tale lives. But first, you need to relax and warm up your tired and overworked adult learners so that they stay focused. And how? Here comes the magical recipe for you, dear teacher!

The Little Pianist tells a story of a talented boy who has to understand that if he wants to ‘hit the jackpot’ he needs to play his piano with his heart, not his fingers. The plot, or its message, makes it a perfect warm-up activity for your class, be it English, Italian, German, Spanish or any other language covered by

And this is how I use this story to boost my Business English classes:

1. Tell your students you’re going to talk about getting to the top. Ask them what they think all successful entrepreneurs share. Write down their answers on the board, providing translations if necessary (especially in less advanced classrooms).

2. Tell them they’re going to watch a short tale, The Little Pianist, to see what the old folk wisdom says about the key to success. Depending on your students’ level, you may use the ‘same language subtitling’ (e.g. Spanish version with Spanish subtitles) or go for the English subtitles (option available at BookBox’s website).

3. If the students are advanced, let them watch the video at one go and then ask them about the punchline:

  • What is the key to success?
  • What do you think ‘to play the piano with your heart’ means?
  • Given that the pianist is an entrepreneur, and the piano is his business, what would it mean that if he wants to be the best pianist, not only a good one, he needs to play with his heart, not with his fingers?
  • Do the successful features listed on the board include the tale punchline?

If the students are A2-B1 level, you might stop the video now and then to explain new vocabulary, or you may prepare the list with the vocabulary to explain before playing the video.

4. If you can devote more time to the subject, you may play the video again and discuss some interesting grammar or lexical points. If not, tell your students they can find this video at or YouTube channel.

Well, in my case, when I used The Little Pianist, the discussion got so hot (B1 level) I settled for conversational classes and used the article on Zuckerberg’s genius (or luck) as homework assignment!

Stay tuned for more ideas on making your classes more attractive with the BookBox tales.

Looking forward to seeing you soon,


character 8Marta Styczen has turned her passion for languages and traveling into a daily routine as a foreign language teacher, educational content writer, translator, and backpacker. Her mission is to encourage people to enrich their lives through learning new languages and travelling, always inventing new techniques for faster learning and sharing them through her website (still under construction), and Facebook.

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