Our Music on Wings Piano Beginner Course Series (Student Version) is available on Amazon
PIANO TEACHER TRAINING COURSE (LEVEL 1) is specifically designed to train new piano teachers to start their fulfilling teaching career immediately upon completion of the course.
We help piano teachers to start teaching right away with all the basic skills they need and by using our method that is proven to be effective and systematic in not only teaching students but also building a private music studio practice.
L1: Introduction: The Basics of Piano Teaching
L2: Build Your Own Piano Teaching Business
L3: Lesson Planning
L4: Lesson Planning I: Child Beginners
L5: Lesson Planning II: Adult and Teenage Beginners
L6: Studio Planning: Calendar, Fees and Policy
L7: Recruit and Interview New Students
L8: Find Your Own Niche
For USD payment, please go here.
If you would like to have more information on the course and/or payment via Hong Kong local bank transfer, please email us directly.
Piano Technique was a myth.
When I was younger I did not understand and believe much in technique. I thought, as probably influenced and taught by various teachers, that technique came naturally, that I just needed to practice more and did not have to work specifically to get it. Yet gradually I found even with hours of practice, my technique did not improve much. I then started to wonder if there was a problem with my practice. One should be able to play better when s/he practiced a lot, right? At first I did not know how to improve my technique. Naturally I asked my teachers. None of them gave me the answer I needed. Some of them just told me to practice more, while the others made it sound like some kind of fable or natural talent, that either you got it or not. Nonetheless, I did not believe so and desperately wanted to improve my technique so that I would not feel fatigue playing difficult repertoire for hours.
I set off my journey to find out the truth.
I was a bookworm, so I went to school libraries to find the books I needed. There were indeed countless books about this topic. I cannot say I had read most of them, but I did have a scan or quick read-through of a lot of them. I found most of them boring and empty.
With much persistence I found two books: Bernstein’s “With Your Own Two Hands” and Gyorgy Sandor’s “On Piano Playing”.
These are the two greatest books that have helped me the most in improving my technique, which has been completely transformed ever since.
I am not saying I have the best technique in the world, but I want to share with my students and readers what I have learnt and I hope this will help you too.
Having good technique gives you much ease in your piano playing and musical expression.
It grants you freedom.
And feeling free at the piano is one tremendous feeling.
Reading this book is important. But so is trying the techniques out.
Knock yourselves out with the methods here! You will find improving your technique is more than just drilling hanon and czerny mindlessly. Who says you cannot have fun while being serious at the same time?
Before we start playing, in piano lessons or practice, we need to have the right mindset. Only under such condition can a student learn and improve.
Now then, what is the right mindset? First and foremost, you have to have the positive learning attitude. That is, you are here to learn and improve. You want to play better. Respect your teacher and yourself. Trust your teacher’s guidance and try your best to follow. Whether in lesson or practice, you are there for yourself to better your own playing, but not for your teacher, parents, or friends.
Second, focus. Focus on your teacher’s instruction and your own playing. It is very important to stay focus during lesson and practice. Without focus, you are merely moving your fingers across the keyboard. So, focus, listen and play.
Third, be confident and have faith in yourself and your playing. If you keep thinking that you cannot improve, you will never improve. Trust yourself that you can play better. From this attitude, face the problems you encounter in the piece and find the right method to solve them. Never think practice is boring or it is a chore. If you think that way, it stays that way in your head. Think practice is interesting and it helps you improve. Indeed, practice is so much fun! For me it is a problem-solving musical activity, it is like you are reading a detective story and trying to solve the case by using the bits and pieces of the evidence; the rest of it is right there for you to find.
Don’t believe me that practice are fun? Try think of it that way before you start your next practice session. Prepare yourself with such positive and fun attitude. Walk to your piano confidently. Start you practice full of hope. You are the music detective trying to solve the case in this piano piece! You will find it a completely different practice that you have never experienced before. (more on growth mindset vs fixed mindset)
P.S. It works only if you believe it works!
Here are some of the most common questions I always get from enquiries. I feel I should answer them here for quick reference. More would be added gradually.
*Note: This is also a good reference for teachers who want to set up their studio policy.
Q1. How old should my child start taking piano lessons?
I would say usually no younger than age 4. It is very hard for a child to sit quite still and concentrate through even a 30-minute lesson every week. It is also difficult for him/her to be able to understand the teacher’s direction, react to it and perform it. It takes time for a child at such a young age to adapt to such a new learning concept, but it is a very good training. It requires much patience from the child, the parents and the teacher, especially during the first six months. The progress might be slow and minimal during the first year, depending on the learning mode and maturity of each student. Do not expect a child to play something very fancy quickly at the beginning: quite on the contrary, we should take time to build a solid foundation of piano playing and musical concept right from the start. Naturally the fancy things will come later.
Q2. How long is a lesson for my child?
I suggest for young beginners, a 30-minute lesson every week to start with. As said before, a child cannot sit still and concentrate for more than 30 minutes (as a matter of fact, even adult’s concentration span is less than 30 minutes!). But a 30-minute lesson goes by really fast (I like it when a student tells me with a disappointed face, “wow, are we finished? I want to play more!”, than when a student feels bored and refuses to play, wishing the lesson can finish earlier.)
Depending on the progress, students usually proceed to 45-minute lessons after 2-3 months. Young beginners may even take longer time to go through the 30-minute lesson period (e.g. 4-6 months). Most importantly, we want your child to enjoy the piano lessons but not to detest them. However, some brilliant students who are fast learners would even take 1-hour lessons when 45-minute lessons are not enough to go through everything.
Some students who are siblings would take an extra lesson together for theory and composition. It is a wonderful thing to do so since they can learn more with less cost and time. There are many ways to improve and progress on piano playing away from the piano, and this is one of them.
Students of grade 8 and above must take 1-hour lesson every week. Some would take 1-and-a-half-hour lessons if resource and time are allowed.
Q3. Do you teach adults?
Yes, I do teach adults, from absolute beginners from scratch to diploma-level students. If you have never learnt playing the piano, start NOW! You have probably heard the old saying, “late is better than never”. It is true. Have you ever regretted that you never had the chance to learn playing the piano when you were little? Or you have stopped playing because of study, work or simply too many other things to learn or do? Do not think, “oh, but I am much older now, I cannot compare with the young children who start learning from early age!” Why do you think you have to compare yourself to them? You are you, you have your strong points and individuality. And you know what? Adults have their advantages in learning the piano. First of all, it is YOU who want to take lessons, not your parents. That is why you are here reading this. Second of all, adults know much better than kids, right? (Well, not in that tone as you think). But you have learnt much more during these years, you can process datas quicker, you can associate different materials easier, your hands and feet can coordinate better, you can read and understand faster, etc, etc. So start today, start now. Do not even hesitate for another second. Because, before you know it, it would be another month, another year, and another decade past, and you still have not started playing the piano.
For adult beginners, I suggest you start with 45-minute lessons first. Depending on the progress, you would proceed to 1-hour lessons when appropriate. Adult students with some experience should take 1-hour lessons weekly.
Q4. What do you teach in a lesson?
This is a simple question with a complicated answer. Although I have a teaching philosophy and methodology, I do not teach every student the same way. Every student is different and unique. I have to understand the way that is most effective for him or her to learn easily and efficiently in an enjoyable manner. Of course, sometimes there would be obstacles and difficulties in playing and students just have to deal with them, tackle them, and move on.
In general, I teach the classical repertoire as the mainstream but add music of various styles and genres (e.g. jazz, pop, musical etc.) to it on the side. I focus on building a solid foundation of piano technique and musical knowledge pertinent to a beautiful and individual playing. I also emphasize developing a good sight-reading ability and improvisation skill; these are the most neglected, ignored and underrated capacities so far among teaching nowadays, yet they are crucial for piano playing that lasts for a lifetime. For every student, I have a personal and detailed learning progress report. I make yearly plans for each student of what techniques and repertoire they have to learn and what goals they have to achieve (e.g. performances, competitions, exams). I review my reports frequently and communicate with the students and/or their parents regularly.
Q5. Can I buy an electric keyboard instead of a piano?
I understand the concerns behind buying a piano: one, buying a keyboard is much cheaper; two, you are not sure if you or your child is serious about piano playing or how long you will be staying in Hong Kong; three, Hong Kong’s homes are way too small to even fit in an upright piano! Yes, I understand all of these, but I do not suggest buying an electric keyboard. If all you want is to be able to play some music on a keyboard, an electric one would suffice to perform such trick. However, if you want to “play the piano”, then you need a real piano! The action of a piano is totally different from an electric keyboard (in fact I do not see any action there in the latter but an electric one) and it thus requires a special kind of technique and touch to play it and produce the diverse and beautiful nuances from it. The sound of a piano produced is also unique of its own that that of an electric keyboard cannot compare (the “grand piano” sound from a keyboard is so fake!). The technique required to play an electric keyboard is limited and therefore much simpler. Students should definitely buy a piano as soon as possible. And for those who haven’t bought an instrument and are considering about getting one, I suggest buying a good quality second-hand piano when there is a limited budget. You only have to be very careful about finding a piano company that you can trust. Even the so-called “new” pianos sold at some prestigious piano companies are not that well-maintained. You should ask your teacher or someone who knows piano to check it for you if possible.
For the parents are not sure if their young children are serious about learning the piano, I suggest you rent a well-maintained piano from a local piano company. You can use a decent quality piano at a lower cost. And when you like to buy it, the rental fee paid can be deducted from the selling price as well.
Q6. Do you teach at students’ homes?
My answer is NO. I strongly suggest students take their lessons at my place, for: 1. I have all my teaching materials and equipment here; 2. Students concentrate and learn much better at my place; 3. I don’t have time to travel to students’ places.
Q7. Can I take a trial lesson?
Yes, you can. I am flexible on this issue. I call this an “evaluation lesson”. Although I do not think you can see how I teach and how you or your child learn in one lesson, I think a trial lesson is good for us to meet and know each other a little before we venture into a long-term teacher-student relationship. In the trial lesson, we first share about our beliefs and goals for your/your child’s piano learning, then I assess the potential student’s playing and conduct a mini-lesson.
The trial lesson fee is the same as the fee for one regular lesson.
Note: All new students are required to take a trial lesson before I officially take them in as my students. (updated July 12,2011)
Q8. What is a consultation session?
A consultation session is a session in which we focus on solving specific problems regarding student’s playing or teaching. Examples are selected technique training, advices on exam pieces, preparation for diploma exams, etc. Such consultation is an one-off session, while a trial lesson is suitable for students who wish to take further lessons from me in a regular basis.
In case of any discrepancy between the Chinese translation and the original English text, the English text shall prevail.