piano


Tracking progress 

Tracking progress is something that is often neglected, yet so vital to the learning process.

It is important for the teacher to track progress, so he/she may have a more holistic understanding of the students’ musical knowledge. By having the whole picture, it is advantageous in isolating weak areas and celebrating strong areas. Every student is different!

Reflection

It is natural to forget the path we walked on- for example, at one point, walking was our most difficult challenge as humans, yet very few of us recall that journey. Music can feel the same way; I can hardly remember the challenges of reading notes 17 years later. Tracking our progress gives us concrete examples that we are constantly growing, even when we feel as though we are in a rut.

Most importantly, tracking our progress visually/audibly lets us reflect back on our journey. Remember when this rhythm concept seemed difficult? Here I am using it now 3 months later! This is the real power source behind motivation- look…I can do this! It takes time and work but it is possible

Distinctive styles also emerge as we reflect on our music- everyone leans towards particular keys, rhythms and melodic patterns. In documenting our work, we become more in tune with what is authentic about our work. We may also find inspirations in knowing that there are things we have not tried.

Track your progress, because you will enjoy looking back like we do with old pictures.


When is it time to move on from a piece?

As a former piano student, I remember often contemplating when I can move on from a piece. In my mind, I was playing it perfect! Why was my teacher so adamant about having me repeat the same song week after week?

I struggle with this same concept as a piano teacher now. As teachers, we have to balance keeping students’ interest up, as well as correcting technical errors. What do I do when the student has lost interest in the piece, when the technical errors haven’t been fixed yet?

On the note of persistence, there has been many challenging pieces I wanted to give up on in my past. Those same pieces became my favourite pieces when I pushed through the difficult technical challenges. I emerged with stronger technique, and an understanding that I can achieve more than I believe I could.

However, in my case, I had a strong passion for music which helped carry me through the hard times. For a student who may just be discovering their musicality, forcing perfection in a piece may be detrimental. Here are some alternate suggestions

Isolate technical issues

  • Is it a rhythm issue? Is it a fingering issue? Solve and practice issues outside the context of the piece to seem less repetitive.

Make edits

  • Make appropriate changes so the student can enjoy the song again. If they enjoy the song and can hear it as a whole, they may be more interested in fixing the issue.

Play recordings during home practice

  • Many frustrating issues is because students do not hear it correctly in their head. Repeated input throughout the week will help with this.

Move on and come back later

  • These technical challenges will arise in a different song. Sometimes a “change of scenery” is all that it takes. Many students return to a song later and realize their own mistakes.

In-Home Piano Lessons (The Guidelines)

In-home piano lessons are very convenient for busy parents who can catch up on their work while listening to their child learn the piano. The challenge is to create a comfortable and productive environment for the student to have the best piano experience. Here are some guidelines of optimal in-home piano lessons.

The Piano

The piano should be an upright acoustic piano, grand piano, or a weighted piano keyboard with a sustain pedal. The weighted keys portion of the keyboard is important as it is integral to teaching the student the correct finger strength required to play the piano. Otherwise, they may find the grand piano at the recital to be unfamiliar!

The piano/keyboard should be tuned (at least once a year), and have the ability to create dynamics (a range of soft sounds to loud sounds).

There should be no unnecessary paperwork, books or decorations on top of the piano, as it is a distraction to the student and teacher.

The Lesson Area

For optimal results, please vacate the lesson area to give the student and teacher privacy. Parents of young students are welcomed to watch, but should refrain from commentary unless it is a special circumstance. The lesson area should be free of toys, or other possible distractions. An uncluttered setting allows the student to focus on the piano.

If the piano bench is large enough for both the student and the teacher, there is no need for an extra chair. If the piano bench is small, please provide a chair that is on the similar height as the piano bench.  EN Music Studio recommends a nearby table for composition exercises.

The Student

For optimal results, please dress the student as if they are heading to a studio to take lessons. This helps the student visualize that they are at a lesson, not being entertained at home.

If necessary, the student should eat before the lesson, and not during.

Siblings who are also taking piano lessons should vacate the area to minimize distractions.

 

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