Piano Lessons

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This summarises my approach to piano teaching with students of all ages. My youngest student so far has been 5 and my oldest 55, and I am happy to teach any age group.

Students learn to play the piano, by reading music from different genres – western classical, jazz, pop and hymns. I teach music theory at the piano, so that my students understand  them well and written work follows. I’ve sent student up for piano exams upto grade 8 level so far, and music theory upto grade 6.

  • How I teach

My teaching methods are flexible. I teach students to play the piano by reading written music. I also use 10 minutes at each class to teach by rote – this means that I demonstrate and students copy me and learn to play. Some students learn to read small sections of music at a time, memorise them away from the piano, & play from memory immediately. I use these methods in rotation or set aside sections of class time for them, because I’ve found it helps students develop a deeper understanding of music theory, and how it fits into their pieces.

  • Learning issues and discipline with young children

I’ve taught young students with mild learning difficulties effectively.  Today many young children in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai have difficulty thinking, reasoning and connecting related ideas, so I’ve adapted my piano teaching methods to help them do so.

I  discipline some of my young students by using their ways of ‘indiscipline’ to teach a musical concept or an idea – letting them have the freedom to do what they want, but using that for a purpose. It’s been very effective at getting my students to be diligent and well behaved, and creative at the same time. Piano class for young children has a lot of movement, and my students are allowed to ask for breaks to do activities of their choice. I find doing this gets fidgety kids sitting still when they get onto the piano stool.

I love teaching the piano! It’s wonderful to see my students grow in music and to see the personality growth that results from all that goes into learning the piano. Every day as a teacher is new – there’s always new music to teach and new ideas and techniques on how to teach, There’s always a student who needs a different approach that I’ve never tried before. Being effective teacher for me means being aware of different ways, so that I can choose the best way to teach. It means being open to trying the new when it’s needed. So I practise the piano and study.

I’m a piano teacher, and I’m also a lifelong student.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What  do I learn in piano class

Learning to play the piano includes learning to sing at the correct pitch and ear training, so that students develop the resources to listen to a tune they like, sing it & play it.

Playing the piano engages different parts of the brain.
 Students need to read written music or play from memory, 
play with both hands, keep the pulse and rhythm of the music,
 and listen when they play, all from the very first class.  
This is beginner level piano. It gets more complex later.

Older students learn how to fit daily piano practise into their busy schedules, and use practise techniques taught in class to practise in smaller slots 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. 

2) Is piano class fun?

My teaching approach depends entirely on the age and learning style of the student. My young students learn by playing music games, and there’s enough movement in class to keep my fidgety students engaged. Older students get taught differently.

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 practises has fun in piano class.

The question students need to ask then, is whether they really want to learn to play the piano and are willing to make a commitment to practise. Because that’s really what makes the challenge of learning fun – daily practise.

3) Do I 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.

4) Will young students practise daily?

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

I read this in a wonderful article written by another piano studio and just can’t find it.

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. And all my piano parents have an open invitation to attend class whenever their schedules permit.

The piano can be a very lonely instrument. There are limited opportunities to perform & listen to other students play, and busy parents often give these a miss, thinking it’s not important. Children who practise alone often practise erratically, get disheartened and stop class. The child that continues usually has parents who keep them company when they play. 

5) What books do I 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.

6) Can I 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.

7) How much should I budget for piano class?

Consider the following when budgeting for piano class.

  1. Class fees. They pay for my time and cover the costs I incur to teach you. More on that in What your piano fees pay for
  2. Music Books, Exam material and Exam fees (if you opt for exams)
  3. The cost of attending concerts and purchasing music to listen to. Listening to free music on internet radio stations and  youtube is a good option when budgets don’t extend to buying music cd’s or digital downloads.
  4. The cost of buying an instrument for home practise… more on this below.

 8) Class structure

  1. I teach solo class – that is a single student per class. 
  2. One lesson per week. Except for very young children, where parents can choose 2 x 30minute lessons a week or 1 x 45minute lesson.
  3. The duration of the lesson depends on the age of the student and their level, ranging from 45 minutes for young children to 1&1/2 hours for older & higher level students. 
  4. Each student will be allotted a class day and time before they enroll.
  5. Students may book 3 or 4 classes a month – at their choice.

9) What instrument should I buy?

The best choice of instrument for daily practise at home is an acoustic  piano.  Some students learn on digital pianos with weighted keys, due to space or budget constraints, but they know it’s a second best option.

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 here

 10) Where I teach

 I teach in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai and in Bandra. My Bandra students do a combination of in-studio, skype & video classes.

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for further information.