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What to Expect When Your Child Takes Piano Lessons

Piano lessons are often extensive multi-year long journeys. At the age of 26, I have had 15 years of piano lessons. EN Music Studio supports a 3 year curriculum that can be extended based on student interest. That being said, it is often hard for parents to imagine what piano lessons look like when they first register their child.

Being a pianist is a process, not a product.

As a teacher, I can not promise that your child will become a concert pianist at the end of the one year mark. Of course, there are curriculum expectation and guidelines; however, there is no “aha!” moment when a student becomes a pianist. EN Music Studio believes that students are pianists from the day they start playing the piano; while they may not be playing Beethoven by week 2, everything they create on the piano is part of their journey.

At the age of 26, with 3 certifications in piano, I can not point to you the moment in the time I felt like I was a pianist. As far I am concerned, I am both a pianist and a piano student every day. The piano is a expansive topic; there are no ending point.

Good Weeks and Bad Weeks

Even as someone with a self-declared passion for the piano, I have had good weeks and bad weeks with the piano. I am talking about both my past with piano lessons, and my current weeks!

Imagine a relationship with the piano as any human relationships. There are moments are deep passion, happiness, light-heartedness, sadness, rage, and frustration. It is in fact these emotions that give the piano so much life.

Piano lessons are a deeply personal project. There are weeks where a student will pour their heart out into a creation. Some weeks they find beauty in pieces they didn’t know existed. There are weeks they feel defeated and not good enough. This is all part of the great journey of the piano lessons.

The Role of the Parent and Teacher

The role of the parent and teacher is to support the child throughout this up and down journey. There are points that your child will feel like quitting! This moment will be up to your and the teacher’s interpretation. Is this because of a temporary block? Or is the student’s shifting their musical interests? Could the teacher support the child’s learning style better?

It is the teacher’s role to guide the student like in any other project-based work. The teacher will moniter their child’s progress, providing opportunities for the student to renew interest, to learn new concepts, and to provide resources to their creations.

 

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Parent Involvement

Parent involvement is an important aspect of piano lessons. In my experience, all piano students that reach any level of success has the common factor of an involved parent.

Why is it important?

Relatability is a large part of why parent involvement is important. Many parents request piano lessons for their children to provide them opportunities that they did not have in their own childhood. While this is great (and admirable!), this often means that the student is the only piano player in the house.

Let’s compare learning piano to learning a language. If a child only hears a new language (let’s say French) once a week, for half an hour, how will he/she pick up the ability to speak and read the language? We often expect our piano students to produce a 4-8 bar song within weeks of piano lessons. Would we expect children learning French to recite short stories within weeks with no home guidance?

Furthermore, having no one to relate to is highly discouraging. Not only is picking up a new language (music) difficult to begin with, having no one going through the same journey adds a level of isolation.

Implementation

There are a couple ways we can implement parent involvement, even if the parent has little music experience! I encourage the parents to improvise together; to learn and grow from each other’s interpretation of music. For parents who have a stronger musical background, I encourage them to learn duets together. This is a great exercise for both musicality and discipline on both parts. Lastly, I encourage parents to practice with their children. Although I understand it is hard to find time to practice in a busy adult life, practicing with your child will give you a different perspective of what the student is going through.  You may even try learning the same songs as the student progresses!

Extra benefits

First of all, two for one piano lessons! By paying the price of one, parents can learn what the student is learning. Secondly, this is a great bonding exercise for child and parent, and encourages the value of discipline. Thirdly, it encourages the longevity of interest in lessons. As piano lessons are a long term investment (often years!), parents should feel the incentive to continue fanning the flame of interest for the student.

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Free Exploration

Natural Free Exploration

Children love the potential of the piano. Within minutes of having an empty piano in a space, I see children gravitate to the bench. I see them hit the same key repeatedly, observing that the pitch doesn’t change. In addition, I watch them vary their strength (usually to the upper dynamic level!), to test out the power of the piano. Even further, I observe them go up (right) and down (left) with joy, experiencing the huge range of notes.

The piano is unique, in the fact that it’s easy to make pitches. In fact, you could literally slam your fist down, and create a cluster of pitches. Compare this to using pencil crayons! Pencil crayons are easy to use; press the tip against the paper…and ta da! Colour.

Some instruments are not this easy. Have you ever tried to play the flute or trumpet before? Think back to your first time trying to blow a solid note. How did it go? For me, it was a huge mess! I mostly sputtered all over, with no discernible pitch. Those instruments add tremendous value to how our body relates to the instrument to make music. However, for a beginner, it is much harder to explore before that basic technique is achieved.

EN Music Studio truly believes free exploration is important to the student. Just like when a child learns to draw, we can not force them immediately to draw an apple or tree. They are more likely to scribble! To explore the different effects one can achieve depending on the weight of the pencil, the pencil type, and the different drawing strokes.

Piano is no different. Before we create fine art, the student needs time to explore the canvas of the piano freely. If stifled into a strict exercise only routine, piano students will view piano as an academic subject, and not as an artistic one. There is nothing wrong with the academic side of piano! The question is: what are you intending for the piano lessons to bring to the children?