His fingers were collapsing as he played, so I picked up my phone and took a close-up video of his hands as he finished the piece.

“Now watch the video,” I told him, “and drop one of these smiley erasers on the piano keys each time you see a finger collapse.”

He watched a few phrases and dropped a few erasers, but about the time he got to the third phrase in the video, he just picked up the entire container of smiley erasers and dumped them on the piano.

We both burst out laughing.

“I need a picture of that,” I said, and picked up my phone again.

We’ve worked hard on maintaining a proper hand position, so I knew he could do it. After this silly exercise, he played the piece again and maintained firm, rounded fingers for the entire piece.

Sometimes, a little levity in lessons can go a long way.