1. FIND A GOOD TEACHER
good first teacher will have two things: a record or history of
producing successful students and experience teaching children. The
best instructor for your child may not be the one with the highest
official prestige (such as a faculty position at a university), high
teaching quality is a combination of: training, educational background,
and dedication to the piano. These are the most important things to
look for in an Instructor. You can get information about the teachers
by contacting them directly, by reading about them on their web page,
and speaking with parents, whose children are currently taking lessons
from them. Don't be afraid about asking for references. When you speak
with the prospective teacher, let them know your desired results and
what kind of piano experience you are hoping to give your child.
2. BUY A GOOD PIANO
your child should have a nice instrument from day one. However, since
nice instruments can run anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 (depending
on the size and brand), this might not be financially realistic for a
beginning student. Therefore, it’s perfectly OK for your child's first
piano to be an upright, provided that it has a crisp, full sound that
doesn’t boom or echo and all the keys and pedals work properly.
you decide to purchase, you should test pianos extensively before
buying to figure out which brands you like and what you should pay for
them. After the purchase, you will need to find a piano tuner to
recalibrate the instrument twice a year and make repairs when necessary.
said, you should keep in mind that your child may eventually require a
high-quality grand piano, preferably by age 10 if they are
exceptionally talented, and you feel it would be worth the expense.
3. START EARLY - AGE FIVE OR YOUNGER
can substitute for early age; even a one-year delay makes a huge
difference on the level of or quality of performance your child may
achieve. Age four or five is ideal; the secret is the attention span
for your child.
The piano is an experience-based
activity; the earlier you start, the more time your child will have to
get comfortable with the instrument. The earlier you start, the more
“natural” playing will feel to your child. The more “natural” the feel
… the more “natural” the music will sound.
4. PRACTIVE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE
Unfortunately, practice is necessary. Like anything worthwhile , the
more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. However, this
does not mean you need to practice 6 hours a day. 30 minutes of correct
practice (focused and deliberate concentration) to learn a specific
technique or pattern is more important than 2 hours of incorrect
practice. (Which is wasted time and reinforcing bad technique.)
The length of practice time you should do will depend upon the
proficiency level desired and how quickly you wish to get there.
5. ENFORCE FLAWLESS TECHNIQUE
your teacher is good, they will focus entirely and maniacally on
technique during the first two years. (If your teacher refuses to talk
about technique or doesn’t seem strict about it, you need to find a new
teacher immediately.) There’s a whole method for how to touch the
keyboard, distribute your weight, and hold and move your fingers before
you play a single note.
After you start working
on exercises, the only way to establish solid technique is to play
everything slowly. One-Note-at-a-Time. Play each exercise at least 3 -
5 times at that slow speed. If you can’t maintain a steady rhythm, use
a metronome. You can speed up gradually, but not before you feel
completely comfortable doing things slowly, fluidly, and accurately.
The reason for this technique is: the slightest technical mistake or
problem in the beginning, when slow, will lead to a garbled mess when
you speed things speed up to normal speed.
Your child may hate this, but might be necessary for you to watch your
child practice to make sure they are practicing correctly.
6. FIND FUN, CHALLENGING REPERTOIRE
Aside from scales and other the all-important exercises, your teacher
should assign interesting and challenging songs for your child to learn
and to perform at recitals/competitions. A good teacher should explain
a little bit about the piece, including some musical history, and
perhaps a short story about each song, before going into more detailed
explanations of dynamics and phrasing.
In the beginning, the pieces will be very basic, but with time and
practice, your child's pieces will become more complicated. Regardless
of their difficulty, your teacher should find professional recordings
of the pieces so you and your child can gain a clear understanding of
what the piece should sound like. It is important that your child plays
and masters the piece perfectly before letting them advance to harder
7. DEFINE GOOD GOALS
need to decide what type of piano experience you want your child to
have. This includes both short-term and long-term. When planning your
goals, you can be ambitious …. but make sure you are realistic. More
than likely your child will not win the Van Cliburn competition at age
10, but with talent and practice, they will be able to produce a
beautiful rendition of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
the beginning, it’s best to make small, short-term goals. As your child
advances, if concerts and competitions are part of your plan, you and
your teacher need to choose the repertoire in advance. This process
could even take place months or even a year before the event.
8. MAXIMIZE THE PERFORMING EXPERIANCE
of the scariest aspects of playing piano is performing in recitals or
concerts. Performing live scares the crap out of most people, so your
child needs to learn to play for audiences. Starting early and
performing often as possible will help desensitize your child.
Performances also help your child by establishing deadlines. They need
to do this … by that date. Your teacher should offer many opportunities
for your child to perform. Make sure your child practices in the
months/weeks preceding each performance. If your child works hard
enough, they will be prepared. If they are prepared, they will be
confident. If they are confident …. their performances will turn out to
be very gratifying and with no mistakes.
9. INSPIRE WITH GOOD EXAMPLES
child needs to see, from an early age, what good pianists are capable
of. For a child, nothing is more inspiring than live performances. So
don't hesitate to take your child to as many piano performances,
advanced student recitals, and solo concerts as you can afford. You
should also let your child to listen to CDs and watch concerts on TV.
Give them a higher level example.
10. TAKE AN OCCASIONAL BREAK
needs to recharge and take an occasional break. For most students, this
means summer. By “occasional,” I mean once a year, and by “break,” I
mean practicing less than usual. Not stopping everything or going cold
turkey. Their technique should deteriorate slightly, but the primary
reason for the break is to give them a mental rest. Not a physical rest.
KNOW WHEN TO QUIT
step isn’t part of the process. Although I have dedicated my life to
teaching the piano, I do realize the piano is not for everyone.
Learning the piano can be frustrating. Practicing is not fun for any
young child. Children always want to quit. After all … they are
children. They just do not know how much they will appreciate their
ability when they will be adults. I’m talk about quitting when no
amount of practice and instruction can overcome a lack of ability. If
your child is musically untalented, you need to be able to recognize,
Another reason to quit: if your child
is at least 14 years old, has achieved a good level of proficiency, and
still hates piano–not just verbally, because kids will complain about
anything–but genuinely derives no joy from practicing or performing,
you need to reconsider their lessons. Your child’s feelings will never
improve. You will be wasting their time, the teacher's time, and your
Lilia Pershina -
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