Monthly Archives: February 2017


Does your child have time for piano lessons?

Before starting piano lessons, it is important to ask if the student has mental space for piano lessons. While I, a piano teacher, can accept that most of my students will not choose to dedicate themselves to becoming a concert pianist, it is important for me to know that there is space in their lives for music lessons.

Time of Lesson

Of course, the most basic time required is the time of the lesson. A piano lesson is traditionally 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes once a week. To ensure productivity, parents will want to select a slot that can be consistent, and with the student’s energy level in mind. Since music lessons are only once a week, it is very important for that time to be as productive as possible.

Time to Practice

Research shows that students who practice about 140 minutes a week (roughly 20 minutes a day) are much less likely to drop out of piano lessons in three years.  While serious students will want to practice more, this recommended time allows the student to form a relationship with the piano. With every practice, their fingers get more used to location and weight of the keys. Many students struggle with this habit, and their progress continues at a slower pace.

Time to Enjoy

Lastly, there needs to be time to enjoy piano. A student should have space in their life to create their own music, and to free play on the piano. Without this essential (fun) part of music, lessons can seem dry and irrelevant. While they may progress through the curriculum, their interest can quickly wane without an outlet to be creative.

If the student’s schedule is filled to the brim with other activities already, a tough choice has to made. While I agree that music education is good for brain and personal development, the advantages can not be felt if the student does not have space in their life.

Take piano lessons with Eric here
Learn more about Eric’s piano lessons here

 


Same Mistakes

A frustrating part of teaching piano lessons, is watching students make the same mistakes over and over again. This is caused by two things: a misunderstood concept, and unhealthy practice habits.

Misunderstood Concept

A mistake because of a misunderstood concept is completely acceptable. As long as the musical concept is not clear, students will likely continue to make the same type of error.  Until the student and the teacher gets to the root of the problem, any progress is muscle memory. Unfortunately, muscle memory may fail the student as time passes, or when stress is induced.

Unhealthy Practice Habits

A more dangerous mistake, is based on unhealthy practice habits. Students can fall into a cycle of attempting to play something over and over again, until they see the teacher’s approval. The issue with this, is that there is very little thought put into why the teacher would approve the new version. To me, this shows a lack of independence in their musicality. While it is the teacher’s role to guide the student, the student must take ownership of where their strengths and weaknesses. Of course, this is easier said than done with young children! However, that is one of the advantages of piano lessons; having a child learn to continually strive for progress with their unique projects.

When a student practices something by playing from beginning to end, they are using the ineffective block practicing.  Not only is this a poor use of time, it builds muscle memory to those mistakes. That’s why students make the same mistakes over and over again!

 

Take lessons with Eric here
Learn more about lessons with Eric Here

 

 


Feedback in Lessons – A Personal Account

I believe there are 4 very important elements integral to piano lessons. The first is playing music together. The second is learning how to practice. The third is learning new concepts. The fourth is feedback.

Feedback- Good or Bad?

As a piano teacher, I often swing back and forth between feeling like I am too “easy” or too “tough” with my expectations. Because my students are at the age of 5-10, I do not expect perfection in execution.  However, I do often find myself correcting my students’ mistakes over and over again. After all, it is what my job is right?

The major issue with this is that students get frustrated that they can not perform the correction. In response, I find it instinctual to continue working on the problem, until we hear one solid good take. However, I remind myself this is not always possible!

It is true that progress in piano comes with repetitions. However, it is important to remember that endless repetition is not the answer. Not only does repetitive block practicing discourage students, it prevents students from understanding the piece as a whole song.

In addition, this kind of teaching limits the amount of music the student can learn in a year.  Instead, I aim to expose the students in reading as much music as possible, so they have a better understanding of how music works.

Furthermore, I find that since all students are amateurs working to improve, the lesson can appear to be a lot of criticism. Like all people, young students like to be encouraged and feel that they are making progress.

In 2017, I vow to encourage my students more and make an effort to praise their progress. Instead of shaming their mistakes, I will look to help them understand their weaknesses and provide options.

 

Take Lessons With Eric Here
Learn More about Eric’s Piano Lessons Here