Frequently Asked Questions

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Welcome to my piano teaching studio!

I teach Solo Piano Lessons to students of all ages in Khargar, Navi Mumbai. My piano teaching studio has a place for anyone who sees music as a part of education, and is willing to invest time and effort in daily piano practise.

New piano parents and students have a lot of questions about piano lessons. I’ve tried to answer them in this list of Frequently Asked Questions. Let me know if you’d like me to add anything in the comments section at the base of this article.

Anita E Kohli,

B. Com, PGDBA (Indo-German Training Centre), ATCL Piano


Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is the best age to start learning to play the piano?

Any age is the best age to start learning to play. That said, I recommend starting young, because piano lessons shape the way students think and have a very positive impact on their education.

Start when you can. Early is best, but late is good too. Children and adults of all ages, including senior citizens, benefit from piano lessons because it helps them relax and gives them joy.

I teach each age group differently,  using age and level appropriate books, and using different teaching methods. Piano class is a solo class because one size doesn’t fit all and I plan each student’s lessons in advance, making sure there’s enough flexibility and variation in content to make class enjoyable.

2) What do students learn in piano class?

Learning to play the piano includes learning to sing at the correct pitch, as well as rhythm exercises and ear training, so that students develop the resources to listen to a tune they like, sing it & play it. Students learn to read written music, or to learn play by rote or by ear and write down what they play.

Playing the piano engages different parts of the brain from the very first piano class.

Older students learn how to fit daily piano practise into busy schedules, and use practise techniques taught in class to practise less and get more done. Students learn to understand what good playing technique and tone production mean, and learn from the very first how posture and hand position affect the sound they produce at the piano.

3) What is the difference between keyboard class and piano class?

I’ll answer this in the context of what is prevalent in the market here in Kharghar and Navi Mumbai, using the terms ‘keyboard style’ and ‘piano style’ to help you differentiate.

Keyboard style playing here usually means playing using the ready beats and rhythms available on basic keyboards. The use of the left hand is restricted to playing chords and focus is on using the beats, voices, layering, recorded introductions and ending, and other facilities available on electronic keyboards.

Piano style playing here usually means that students learn to use both hands equally. The content, the level of difficulty of the pieces and the motor skills, focus and mental preparation required is much much higher than ‘keyboard style playing’.

A grade 8 keyboard examination is way below level in terms of actual playing to a grade 8 piano examination. New students who join piano class with me, having done grade 5 keyboard have had to start from beginner level piano. Professional keyboard performers all consider a knowledge of ‘piano style playing’ upto advanced level, to be  base for their knowledge and playing technique.

4) Is piano class fun?

My teaching approach depends entirely on the age and learning style of the student. Young  students stay engaged because there’s enough movement and off-the-piano-bench activity in class to suit them. Older children and adults get taught differently and find piano class is fun, challenging and relaxing all at the same time. They have fun because playing the piano gives them joy.

When we talk about fun we often think ‘easy to do’ and ‘lack of commitment’ and piano class is the opposite. The student who wants to learn and who practises at home daily has fun in piano class.

5) Do students need to have musical ability?

There’s a misconception that there should be visible signs of talent, before a student starts learning music. The average student has enough musical talent to learn to play. Many students come from backgrounds where they lack exposure to music and musical activities. Starting piano class gives them this exposure. What matters more is that the student has chosen an instrument that he/she has a keen desire to learn.

6) Will young students practise daily?

 ‘Parent support is the single and most important factor that determines whether a child continues or gives up the piano once the novelty wears off’

I read this in a wonderful article written by another piano studio and just can’t find the link to the full post. I work with families with stay-at-home as well as working Mum’s. I talk to parents over the phone and email class recordings and important communications to parents of young children. And all my piano parents have an open invitation to attend class whenever their schedules permit.

Older teens and adult piano students work independently. That said, those students who come from family environments that listen to music tend to practise more regularly and with more commitment than those for whom piano is just a ‘class’.

There are limited opportunities to perform & listen to other students play and students or families with packed schedules often often give these a miss, thinking it’s not important. The piano can be a very lonely instrument and the students who stick are the ones who attend concerts, play when there’s an opportunity and make listening to music a part of their regular daily routine.

7) What books do students need?

Students at beginner level start with piano method books, and easy repertoire books, and then move on from there. I sometimes teach using exercises and short pieces that I’ve written for my students. Students who wish to appear for piano and theory exams will need the relevant exam books – piano, theory, aural, scales & sight-reading.

Very young beginners start learning with WunderKeys, a piano course for preschoolers.

8) Can students do piano exams and music theory exams?

Yes. Exams are not compulsory and you may choose to do them if you wish to. My students appear for piano exams held by Trinity College London, which are held in Mumbai/Navi Mumbai from November to January and June to July every year. Students may choose to appear for exams with any other examination board.

9) How soon can students do exams?

Most Indian students love music exams. For many, in the absence of a culture of music and performance opportunities, they are the sole motivating factor that make students want to join piano class.

Many beginner students are unaware of what is involved in playing the piano well, as they often can’t hear the difference between good and bad playing. And therefore tend to underestimate the effort involved and to rush into examinations before they’re ready.

My experience with transfer students has been that many of them need to unlearn bad playing habits and learn what piano practise means before they are ready to do an exam. Because they’ve either taken a break between teachers & practised wrong on their own, or the exam focus – learning just 4 or 5 pieces a year has been insufficient to prepare them for a higher level of playing.

10) What are the costs to consider when budgeting for piano class?

Consider the following when budgeting for piano class:

  1. Class fees. They pay for my time and cover costs I incur to teach you. More on that in What your piano fees pay for
  2. Music books, exam books & material, and exam fees (if you opt for exams).
  3. The cost of attending concerts and purchasing music to listen to.
  4. The cost of buying an instrument for home practise –  more on this below.
  5. The cost of tuning an acoustic piano and the availability of piano tuners willing to visit your locality.

11) What instrument is best for home practise?

I always recommend that students buy an acoustic  piano or the second best option, a digital pianos with weighted keys. However, many students start piano classes with a 5-octave keyboard, and invest a little later, when they’re sure their child will continue to be interested. And more importantly, when they’re sure they are committed to making time to do whatever it takes to get their child to practise daily.

For reasons relating to piano playing technique, piano teachers always recommend acoustic pianos or a good quality digital piano.  You can read more about this in We have a keyboard at home, why should we buy a piano?

There’s a new type of piano called the ‘Hybrid’ which I find very interesting. The new hybrid pianos are reputed to have the feel and sensitivity to tonal nuances that an acoustic piano, and they they don’t need tuning, which is wonderful! Unfortunately, they aren’t on display at showrooms in Mumbai.

12) What instruments do I recommend for beginners on a budget?

I recommend 2 options to beginner piano students on a budget. These are my own recommendations, based on the kind of ‘key touch and sensitivity’ I feel is suited to beginner level students, as well as availability. Most piano students will eventually end up investing in a high quality digital piano or an acoustic piano. Or maybe, when it’s available here, a hybrid piano.

  1. Budget Rs 13,000/- to 18,000/- : A Casio CTX3500 (a 5 octave keyboard with touch response suitable upto late beginner level only), an X-type keyboard stand (single frame, as double can reduce leg room for taller students and prevent good posture), an adjustable piano bench, and a sustain pedal (optional).
  2. Budget Rs 40,000/- to 45,000/- : A Casio CDP 130 or 135 (a digital piano with a sustain pedal suitable for beginners upto late intermediate level), a digital piano stand and an adjustable piano bench, if it’s not included free with the piano.

13) Where is the closest music store?

  • Peace Music Instrument Store, opp. LittleWorld Mall, behind Bhoomi Heights, Shantiniketan CHS, Plot-8, Sector-8, Shop-8 (behind Da Capo), Kharghar, Navi Mumbai . Contact number : 095456 99331.
  • Furtados Music, Jer Mahal, Dhobitalao Mumbai 400002. Contact number : 022-66225454, 022-66225406.

If you have any difficulty getting in touch with them they’re on Facebook and listed on Justdial ( 022-28888888). I am not a part of either Furtados or Peace Music Store and the above details are the best that I can provide. Please visit their sites if you wish to leave reviews or feedback on their stores.

 14) Is there anything else you need to know before enrolling?

Here’s a list of posts I wrote that will help you understand more about piano class and piano teaching.

What young beginners learn in piano class

A guide to buying a suitable piano bench

 15 easy steps for students, to a really effective piano class

What do piano teachers ‘DO’?

 

I hope this helps. Please write in if there’s anything you’d like me to add to the above FAQ’s.


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