A Tip From a Teacher: The 4 Basics

Teaching and mentoring piano students of all ages continues to be an education and a joy for me. Suggesting ideas and tips to help students appreciate piano music as a listener, student and performer is always on my mind. My husband and I teacher piano lessons full time and have found the following tips beneficial to present to parents of you and our adult students:

1) Every day, we as piano teachers hear, “I played this so much better at home.” The piano in the music studio can feel just different enough from the piano at home to result in some stumbling or hesitation, especially when pieces are not solidly learned. There is an excellent way to avoid this frustration. Most students or family members will have an iPod, iPad, smartphone or other device that can record. I would enjoy all students learning to record their piano pieces (with assistance of parents, when necessary for younger students). Recording tends to increase the number of repetitions of the music (perhaps the most important element of practice), as students strive to get the best recording to show the teacher during their piano lesson. The students can play their recordings in the private lesson, and the teacher can hear the proof that really “played this so much better at home.”

2) One of the best musical learning experiences is simply hearing good music well performed. The kind of music youth are exposed to (classical, pop, jazz, religious, etc.) leaves a definite impression. If you want youth to develop an appreciation for beautiful piano music, make sure he/she is exposed to it as regularly as possible. Having quiet piano music playing in the background around the home, during meals, riding in the car, or whenever practical will leave valuable impressions in the musical memory banks of even very young children. Pandora is a website from which all kinds of beautiful, continuous music can be streamed. One can build a musical library on an iPod, with iTunes on a computer, or in a CD collection, of course. Having quality music playing in the background during the day can make a favorable impression on piano students of all ages.

3) Parents showing interest in their children’s piano playing can have a huge positive influence on success. Generally, just expressing genuine interest in what they are playing and gratitude for their efforts — on a regular basis — will usually pay big dividends. More specifically, one parent or other can ask how it’s going a couple times each week, ideally once early in the week (“What do you have to learn this week?” so they know someone is paying attention) and then a bit later in the week (“Are your pieces getting easier? Do you feel like you’re making progress? Would you play a couple of your pieces for me?”) As parents of youth make these efforts, it will become clear what approach works or doesn’t work with the piano student. For the adult piano student, expressing to the teacher what music is enjoyable and of interest for them to learn is always welcomed.

4) Finding and creating sharing times to play piano pieces for friends and family, is highly encouraged. Our piano studios have a monthly “Piano Party” for youth, and a “Piano Party” for the adult students, encouraging the opportunity to share their piano pieces with one another. These piano socials are very fun and enjoyable to all students and guests who attend. At different time of the year, consider having your own “Piano Party” at home with family, friends and neighbors.

The gift of music in our lives brings joy on many levels to us all. Keep the music playing in your homes.

Miss Bonnie teaches at her studio in Edmonds, WA. Please contact Bonnie at msmusic88@comcast.net for further information!








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