Learning to Play the Piano
Real Information for Great Piano Lessons!
The best piano lessons make everyone happy: teachers, students, and parents. Many adults, maybe even most adults, took piano lessons as children.As extracurricular activities go, learning to play the piano is among the most popular. Most kids start out excited about learning, happily looking forward to lesson day.
Then something happens.
It could be 6 months later, or a couple of years. What started out as an adventure turns into drudgery. Dreams of sitting at the piano playing beautiful music begin to seem distant and unreachable.
What went wrong?
Despite passionate teachers working hard to share the love of music with students, an astonishing 90% of students quit. (Which is why so many adults had lessons, but sadly can't play much.) For some, of course, piano isn't their heart's desire.
But what about the rest?
Sometimes, the teacher-student relationship isn't a good fit. Frustration can set in when a student feels misunderstood or unable to communicate. Students often blame themselves and become discouraged.
Many times, the traditional piano methods simply don't present material in a workable way to students. Too much information, too fast. Note names, rhythms, treble clef, bass clef, forte, piano, presto, largo, crescendo, decrescendo... no wonder so many students get frustrated!
But there's hope... there are new and exciting methods available now, both for home based piano lessons and for private study with a teacher.
There are also creative teachers who supplement and teach the traditional methods in unique, effective ways.
Successful Piano Lessons
In my studio, one of the keys to successful piano lessons is to begin with a positive relationship with students (and, if they are children, the parents). I always have a "mutual interview" with students and families before I agree to teach them.
Ask for recommendations from friends and family to find a good piano teacher in your area. The cost of instruction will vary depending on urban or rural location, the teacher's experience level, and whether you choose private lessons or group piano lessons.
Also, ask prospective teachers whether they teach traditional method piano or one of the newer alternative piano methods. Learn more about the different piano methods out there, and find out what's working in your community! Ask about learning to play piano by chords, which I think is an invaluable and fun skill.
Make sure to tour the teacher's studio and get a feel for her teaching style. I believe one of the biggest factors in student success is a fun, joyful lesson experience. I play plenty of music games with my students, and give stickers and prizes as incentives and rewards.
Trust your teacher, her instructions, and her compliments. Be teachable! Just because you don't understand why she's asked you to do something doesn't mean there's not a reason.
Also...before you start lessons, take a moment and think about what you really believe about lessons and learning. Misinformation and piano lesson myths are pretty common. Have a good talk with your teacher about what you're expecting!
You can use piano lesson software that makes learning to play so much fun.
If you're an adult...
You might be worried that learning to play piano is out of reach for you. Or that piano lessons are only for kids. Not true!
Any age is the right age to start! Teaching adult piano lessons is one of my passions!
I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning. ~ Plato
If you're a parent...
When to start your kids in piano instruction? I find that 5-7 is an excellent starting age range. 4 year olds are very musical and bright, but I've found more success with slightly older children.
Kids piano lessons should be fun and educational! And parental involvement is key. Kids haven't yet developed long-term thinking skills. Parents need to understand this and remind their children of the end goal. Support and encourage the learning process lovingly and consistently.
Listen to and enjoy good piano music. It will be a daily reminder of where you can go. A daily dose of inspiration. It will lower your stress level and bring a smile to your face.