Many new piano parents andamp; their children wonder “What are piano lessons like?” It can be a source of excitement for some children. And for some, it is a source of anxiety before that first lesson.
The short answer is what piano lessons look and sound like depends on the teacher you choose. We all have different approaches and philosophies. And while this can be overwhelming to a new piano parent, the great news is that you have a much better chance of finding the teacher that is perfect for your child!
Back In The Time Of Dinosaurs
‘Back in the day’ when I started piano lessons (andamp; my twins joked that dinosaurs were roaming the earth), lessons used to be much more ‘note-based’.
It was very much about reading the music on the page and playing it exactly as written. Scales were the warm-up that ‘every’ teacher used and students needed to play them the same speed and volume every time.
Depending on the student level, theory pages assigned during the week or additional theory classes were normal. And, as much as I think my teachers did their best to link everything, the worksheets I was assigned didn’t seem to have anything to do with what I was playing.
What Piano Lessons Look Like Now
Now we know there are MUCH better ways to teach our students. There are multiple teaching approaches and philosophies from all over the world. At Must Love Music, we use aspects from several different approaches to create our own unique experience for each student.
Some teachers still use the ‘traditional’ approach and it works for their students. However, many teachers are switching to a modern approach. There is a certain irony since aspects of this ‘new’ approach have their roots dating back to the 1600’s. The modern approach better aligns with decades of brain learning research.
Now many teachers act more as a guide than lecturer.andnbsp; We see our job as a guide for each step as students make discoveries ‘on their own’ (with nudges to ensure they make that discovery).
I lose count of the number of times I’ve told my twins something.andnbsp; And, they just can not remember it.andnbsp; Yet the moment they made the connection on their own, they remember it.
Have you had that moment with your child? It’s the same with students.
4 Ways Piano Lessons Looks Different
I like to think we have taken the best from previous generations of piano teachers. What we know about how the brain works and how to best learn continues to evolve. That being said, here are 4 ways things are much different during piano lessons nowadays.
Exploration Vs. Lecture
Exploration and discovery are no longer the activities at the end “if we have time”. Instead of giving the answer right away, students try different things to experience the concept before giving it a name. ‘Back in the day’, it was the exact opposite.
Because we approach skills and concepts in multiple ways the neuroconnectors in your brain are much stronger. Meaning you remember easier and have plenty of different ways to practice … even during lesson time!
Mistakes Vs. Learning Opportunities
Mistakes aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a learning opportunity to hear what sounds good … and what doesn’t fit together as nicely. That’s right! Even a wrong note in a song is a chance to figure out why it’s considered ‘wrong’ and why what is written is ‘right’.
Improvisation And Composing
Improvisation, or “making it up as you go along” is included in most method books.andnbsp; Not only is it a way for students to make their OWN music using specific concepts, there is a long tradition of improvisation.
Improvisation hearkens back to the Baroque era (1600 – 1750), Classical era (1730 – 1820), and Romantic era (1830 – 1900). It was a natural expectation for students to improvise and create their own music both during lessons and the week.
That’s right! (Very) old school is back!
Many new students have never known a world without technology. It’s not exciting. It’s just expected.
Technology, when used correctly, enhances learning. It allows you, as a student, to connect with the teacher and their learning in a different way. No more waiting for next lesson to ask a question.
With so many music apps out there, there are many different ways to review concepts. Which in turn makes that remembering process much easier.
But, technology for technology’s sake is never okay. There should always be an educational reason for each app and program used.
What Piano Lessons Are Like
Because each teacher has their own approach, it’s best to ask directly. This gives you a chance to ask questions and get a good understanding of what piano lessons are like in that studio.
At Must Love Music, we are always doing something new with regular changes of focus throughout the academic year.
- Warm-ups:andnbsp; We often will start ‘off the bench’ before moving our learning ‘on the bench’.
- Technique: This can be anything from specific movements to scales, chords and arpeggios. It all depends on what the student needs to master.
- Repertoire:andnbsp; Fancy way of saying the songs students play.andnbsp; Sometimes we start ‘off the bench’ to practice a particular concept.andnbsp; Sometimes we play with music, sometimes we play with no music.
- Improvising And Composing: Improvising happens throughout the year and is a natural extension of everything else we do.
- Group Lessons: These give students a chance to socialize and learn with other students. It also gives us a chance to look at and practice other aspects of music learning.
For very young students in preschool or kindergarten, lessons look a little different from this. Our little ones learn differently and lessons are set up in a way to help them learn in the way that works best for them!
With teen and adult students, we tailor the activities to their interests. This can be everything from:
- Focusing more on music theory for those that like the analytical side of things
- Playing with backing tracks often to build up to ‘jamming’ with others
- Learning songs from artists that you admire.
So, what are piano lessons like? That depends on the teacher you choose for your child or yourself. It is a mix of teacher expertise and student goals that make each lesson unique!
The lessons YOU want
When looking for a piano teacher, it’s important to go beyond the basics. We all want to know the teacher’s availability and the cost of tuition. As a parent myself, I get it. These are really important questions because if the timing or cost doesn’t work out, you don’t want to waste time. But, that’s just the starting point. It’s a balancing act to find the perfect teacher that ticks those boxes and meets your child’s needs and your expectations.
What questions do you have about what piano lessons look like?
Let me know in the comments below!
If this approach to piano lessons looks good to you, click to set up an interview to join our online piano studio!