Q: At what age is my child ready to begin piano lessons? A: This answer will vary from teacher to teacher and depends on the child. There is a wonderful little series called “My First Piano Adventure” by Nancy and Randall Faber which are great for children around ages four and five. My favorite age for children to begin is age eight, (in a different series). Ultimately, I prefer to do our trial lesson before recommending a good age for that student to begin. On the flip-side, you are never too old to start piano.
Q: My student does not know the notes on the piano. Should we put note stickers on the keys? A: “No-no, and definitely not.” -Garrick Ollivander, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Much like my brain has atrophied due to my phone remembering everything for me, students do not learn the notes on the piano by having the stickers on the keys. During lessons, we will use mnemonic devices, cute stories, charts, and good old-fashioned brain power to memorize the notes.
Q: How much does my child need to practice the piano during the week? A: This one is answered a bit in my policies. But just to give you some further guidelines, here are some of the agreements I’ve come to with students and parents that reap ideal benefits!
For young beginners, we aim for a minimum of three practice days per week. For each practice session, the student must play their song(s) for the week three times. This keeps the child in a more productive and focused mindset during their practice time instead of focusing on how long they have to sit at the piano.
For beginners at about eight and older, we usually try for a minimum of three practice days per week with a time-requirement of twenty minutes. Three days is definitely a minimum. Students will see much faster results in their playing ability if they practice four or more days per week.
At each stage, I discuss appropriate practice expectations with each parent. This is where information really is key in creating the best piano experience for your child. In many cases, and with students who are ready for the responsibility, the student and I discuss and agree upon an appropriate practice-commitment.
Q: Is a keyboard enough to begin or do we need to have an acoustic piano? A: Obviously, a real piano is ideal. That being said, I have many beginners who have a great experience on inexpensive, electric keyboards. Following two years of lessons, they will need consistent access to a keyboard with the full span of weighted keys. Working with weighted keys makes a big difference in the dexterity and strength of the fingers as they play. If an acoustic piano is unavailable, this is a good alternative.
Q: How often does my piano need to be tuned, and where do we start? A: In a perfect world, you would have your piano tuned every six months. In a more realistic world, as often as you can. My own piano is about 30 cents low and has a very bright, nearly “honky-tonk” sound to it. I love it. If you’re looking for a piano tuner, I tune pianos a little on the side.
Q: To what level are you qualified to teach my child? A: If the student gets to the point where they decide they would like to study music at the collegiate level, I can assist them to that point, and then send them off to a more advanced teacher for either private or University instruction.
Q: Can we opt for bi-weekly (or any other schedule) lessons? A: Not at this time. There could be situations where this might be the more appropriate arrangement for you or your child, but I am not currently able to accommodate that need in my studio. (There are many factors to consider such as the changes this would cause in payment, my ability to schedule other students weekly, etc.).
Q: Do you accommodate students who need adaptive piano lessons? A: While I still have much to learn, I am able to teach students with varying levels of high-functioning autism, ADD, and ADHD. I do not yet have experience with severe Autism, Downs Syndrome or physical disabilities which might affect their ability to learn and play. I’m lucky to be married to a man who is a professional teacher for athletes and youth of all ability levels (so he could help me learn), and I am willing to try my best to learn about each unique situation as they come my way.
Q: Do you offer online lessons? A: Sure do. In-person lessons are my favorite, but online lessons are an option if you prefer. Currently, I use Zoom. Just make sure your student has a functional setup where I can hear them and see their fingers easily on they keyboard.
Q: My student struggles with dedicating to their practice-time. What can I do as the parent? A: It doesn’t matter if the student’s destiny is to become the next Amy Beach. Every piano student goes through a phase or two of disenchantment with the piano. I have yet to meet one who hasn’t. Inevitably, you or your little Mozart will reach a point where piano is no longer the new shiny penny. While I will do everything I can to assist you in your endeavor to get your child to practice, the most important thing is that we stick to the lessons. Even if there is a phase of little to no practice, having a weekly piano lesson still ignites progress and builds upon the student’s knowledge of music. It is my belief that learning the piano helps students with a number of things beyond the piano bench. They’re also learning about artistic expression, music history, how to think on their feet, to problem-solve, and organize information. During lessons, they are literally learning a different language. I could go on about the many benefits of piano lessons that I have experienced and witnessed in others, but I’ll spare you the diatribe. Ultimately, parents can show the best support by organizing and enforcing a consistent routine of piano practice in the child’s week. It is only natural that they will go through periods where they don’t exactly love it. When it comes down to it, no skill worth having is easy to obtain. The best lesson I ever learned growing up was that I am worth the hard work it takes to become a capable, dedicated individual in whatever skill I am learning. No matter how hard the process, when a student is struggling with motivation due to lack of confidence, I tend to focus more on confidence-building exercises.
Please don't hesitate to Contact Me with your questions or concerns.