Common Questions on Music Learning and Piano Lessons (Part II)

What happens in a piano lesson?

Piano lessons should include more than learning a few pieces and some scales for an upcoming exam or competition.

First of all, the lessons should be pre-planned and well structured, according to the progress plan made by the teacher with further discussion with parents and students. In general, the teacher should teach basic techniques with a list of suitable exercises, songs appropriate for the student’s level and ability. The teacher should also teach the student aural training with certain exercises and music rudiments with general theory/musicianship. When the student has reached a certain level, the teacher should also teach him/her some basic keyboard harmony/improvisation techniques important for building a student’s musicianship.

The teacher is also responsible for teaching a student how to practice at home with efficient practice methods and plans. Parents and students are responsible for getting the practice done according to the teacher’s instructions before attending each lesson. Without practice, there is nothing that your teacher can do, even if your teacher is the best teacher in the world.

I hope you understand that music is something you/your children should enjoy and be educated with, and playing the piano is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. However, you also believe that you/your children have to work hard and practice in order to play the piano better, instead of trying to find the easiest and shortest route to it. Therefore you understand that playing the piano is about the process but not the goal, and it is a skill for a lifetime. Help yourself/your children to practice, in a strict and systematic yet positive and encouraging way. Consult and discuss with your teacher from time to time about the progress and problems in learning. You might want yourself/your children to take part in exams and competitions, yet understand that they are merely milestones and guidelines for you/your children to achieve in the long and winding path of piano learning. Lastly, find a teacher who is well informed about piano performance and piano pedagogy, a teacher who is kind, loving and passionate about piano teaching.

Teresa Wong

(This is an excerpt from the upcoming book “Piano Freedom” written by Teresa Wong)

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