Frequently Asked Questions on Piano Lessons
A list of topics to help students and student families enrolling in piano lessons with me at Anitaelise Piano Studio, for the very first time. I’ve compiled this based on questions new piano families ask me.
Please write in if you’d like me to add anything to this post – the comments box is at the bottom of this post, or you can contact me via email through the blog menu.
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. Each student’s lesson is planned 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’.
New students who join piano class with me, having done grade 5 keyboard examination often have had to start from beginner level piano.
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, even in online piano lessons.
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.
My piano lessons will engage students who are clear they wish to learn the piano and who practise the piano daily.
Students who like a once a week piano or music activity with no daily practise are better suited to a class providing general music teaching, rather than piano lessons. I do not currently teach these kinds of lessons but there are other teachers who do.
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 when needed, so that I can understand their child’s personality and learning style. This helps me teach independence and self-reliance in practise better.
Young children who are given the support they need at home, and students who attend concerts and community activity that I organize from time to time, fall into daily practise pretty quick.
I am grateful for the support from many wonderful Piano Mom’s and a handful of Piano Dad’s over the years. Your children couldn’t have done this without you.
7) How much time does it take for a student to be able to appear for piano examinations?
Well this depends. I’ll answer this in terms of knowledge rather than in terms of a time frame. Because it varies with age, the quality of daily practise, regularity of attendance and many other factors. Each student is different and goes through learning at a different pace.
- Young students who work well with parent support for practise learn at a steady pace that often does suddenly accelerate.
- Some young students are very clear they want to work independently and won’t work with their parents. With these students, learning is entirely dependent on their practise. Children who are disciplined, whether it’s their nature or the family routine that does this, learn well. Children with erratic routines learn very slowly, learning discipline over time, learning at a reasonable pace after they learn to practise daily.
- YouTube learners with no prior guided learning can often start lessons with badly shaped hands or posture that needs to be undone. Some have habits of only practising what they find easy and take time to understand that daily practise is an essential part of learning. The pace of learning with these students depends a lot on the ability of the student to be clear about their learning goals and be willing to match their daily practise with these goals.
- Adult learners learn at widely varying speeds, depending on their goals and the skill they have at balancing their daily schedule and making time for piano practise.
All my piano students who are beginners get put through a method book – a different series of books for student of different ages and abilities. The level of book I choose for them varies. Some students do very well with no-book teaching that sets them onto a higher level very quickly, while some students only practise if they have written music.
Piano students who already play will be assessed and put onto the level of book they can comfortably sight-read.
Here’s a link to a Correlation Chart between different piano method books and the ABRSM examination levels. India has examinations by Trinity College London, ABRSM and LCM and my students can appear for any examination board they like.
8) What are the costs to consider when budgeting for piano class?
Please consider the following when budgeting for piano class at Anitaelise Piano Studio:
- Piano fees – please contact me for details.
- Expenses not covered in my fee – more on this at my piano lessons page.
- The cost of buying, maintaining and moving a piano:
- At a very rough estimate, a new entry level digital piano costs Rs 40,000 onwards. And a new entry acoustic piano Rs 2,50,000/- onwards.
- Talk to the piano dealer about the playin level your instrument supports, it’s life, cost of tuning/servicing your piano, and the cost of moving it if live on rent and move often. These vary widely depending on whether you purchase a digital or acoustic instrument, and the quality of the instrument.
8) Is there anything else you need to consider before you contact me?
Yes. One, think about your goals so you are clear when you talk to me as to whether you wish to learn for leisure, for examinations or concerts or a combination of both.
Two, my teaching is a non-standardized format with a student-guided approach. I teach and talk to each student differently an spend time on lesson planning and study as I teach to different learning needs. I teach quick learners, as well students with mild-learning and discipline issues. And make an extra effort when a student has health issues, or when families go through stressful times. Talk to me about this if it’s applicable as it helps me teach better and know when to be more patient than usual.
Please write in if there’s anything you’d like me to add to the above FAQ’s.