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Going with the Flow – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Young Mr G was resisting participating in a composing activity. I use a system that tells a cute little story and each lesson of the system builds on that story and subtly introduces another technique the students can use in their composition. Mr G liked the story and the idea behind it but he wasn’t going to try it out. No way. He procrastinated. He changed the subject. He fiddled with other things. So I let it go for that week and we smoothly moved on to something else.

The next week Mr G turned up with two plain books that he had made in school that day. He had folded in half many sheets of plain paper, with a different coloured sheet on the outside of each one. He had experienced trouble stapling the middle and wondered if I could help. We stapled up the books and I had an idea… I asked him what his plans were for the books (he had no specific plans) and asked if perhaps he would like to use one in his lesson to compose some rhythms. He was so thrilled to have a purpose for one of his treasured books, he jumped at the opportunity. He chose his red book and composed his rhythm. I drew a staff in the book, he put his rhythm to music and his motif was born. The first composing lesson was done! He was so proud of his achievement, he even let me video it to share with my Facebook page (and normally he is not a fan of sharing).

The moral of the story? Go with the flow. 

I work hard on creating curriculums and I have a plan mapped out for each student. It’s important to know where we’re heading, plus it provides them with structure and a goal. But it’s all pointless if they aren’t engaged and sometimes that engagement can come from the most unlikely of sources. As a teacher, I need to be constantly alert for teaching opportunities. It may mean the lesson plan is derailed, but as long as they are learning something valuable and at their level, then the things in the lesson plan can always be caught up later.

Miss G (sorry, but their names really do start with the same letter) is a young teen who loves to experiment on the piano and she plays a lot of songs with a chord base. She has worked out a lot of this herself and will often show me what she has been doing. I realised though that she is solely playing by ear (a great skill in itself) but without understanding why she was playing those particular notes. So all of a sudden the lesson changed and turned into a conversation about chord construction, major vs minor triads and typical chord progressions (and even 12-bar blues). I wanted her to have the knowledge to work out where she should go next without having to try every note until one sounded right. It was important to ‘derail’ because playing this other music is what fuels Miss G’s love of piano when the slog of scales and exam prep becomes a chore.

Of course, this is harder with the students who are on an exam trajectory. If they want to reach their goals by exam time, their time is fairly tightly scheduled and because most of them don’t practise very much these days, lesson time is often spent going over things that should have been conquered during home practise. But even within those confines, it is important to be adaptable. Go with the flow.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

 

What’s the Rush for Exams? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

“How soon will she be able to sit her first exam?” is a question often posed by new or prospective student parents, often with a memory of their own days learning the piano.

When I was a kid, it was normal to start lessons at the start of the year after turning seven. We concentrated on one extracurricular activity (or only a couple) and we could practise every day. In the middle of the following year, we were usually ready to sit the Preliminary grade AMEB exam.

But these days the answer to the ‘when’ question is as uncertain as the length of the proverbial piece of string and there are a number of reasons why.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW

  1. The AMEB Preliminary exam has been growing substantially and steadily more difficult. Pieces that appeared in my old First Grade books are now more likely to be found in the Preliminary repertoire. It was rare to venture beyond the basic five finger position and both key and time signatures were beginner level. In comparison, one of the pieces in the current Preliminary syllabus has interchanging compound and simple time signatures and two different pentatonic key signatures, as well as extending to both extremes of the keyboard.
  2. Kids these days have quite heavily-scheduled lives. They often have a list of extra-curricular activities that take up so much time, there is little time left for home practise. If they can’t practise effectively, they won’t improve at the rate that may be expected. Just turning up to lessons isn’t going to do the job. A student who can manage 90 minutes a week of quality practise will take double the time to progress as a student who can manage 3 hours (and this commitment to practise is pretty much out of the control of the piano teacher).
  3. Students are often starting lessons at a younger age. While I still prefer to not start them until around seven, many kids are starting as young as 4 and 5. This is a major factor in their exam-readiness. While there are many benefits to starting kids in music lessons earlier, without those language and maths basics behind them, it takes longer for them to learn concepts and many weeks of reinforcement activities are often required for each note or concept. Looking at the practise aspect, younger children’s attention spans are shorter and it can prove counterproductive to insist they sit at the piano for a specific amount of time. They also benefit greatly from having a parent sit with them and guide them through their practise, which becomes difficult when both parents need to work.
  4. Both parents working often means kids aren’t coming straight home after school. Afternoons spent at facilities such as OOSH offer no opportunity for scheduled practise time and the precious few hours left at home are rightly dedicated to family time.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSWThe first point above makes the combination of issues somewhat specific to Australia, as the Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) is the dominant player in providing instrumental assessments in Australia only, but the problem of less available practise time and younger beginners is lamented by teachers worldwide, whether in relation to exams or just general progress.

We can no longer expect piano students to follow the same progression as all the generations before them. Whereas once upon a time it was not uncommon for a beginner aged seven to spend eighteen months acquiring the basics and practising 20 – 30 minutes every day of the week to be ready to sit for their Preliminary examination (which were much easier), these days it is a rare student who is ready to be entered for this first examination within any less than two-and-a-half to three years of tuition.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

What Piano Should I Buy? Acoustic vs Digital – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

A pianist will learn to play on the instrument on which they practise, not the one on which they take lessons.

Buying a piano is an exciting task, but it can also be overwhelming. All pianos are not “created equal”. Like most things in life, there are the good, the bad and the in-between.

A question often asked is whether a digital or acoustic piano should be purchased. As with most purchases, there are pros and cons with both options; both acoustic pianos and digital pianos have their strengths and weaknesses.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW

As with many things these days, there seems to be a growing thought that the digital version of anything is better. This is not the case. Take cameras, for example. Digital cameras are growing in popularity because they do a lot of the work for us and are increasingly affordable, but despite the huge file sizes now available, they are still not producing the same standard as a quality film camera.

An acoustic piano has around 10,000 working parts and one that is masterfully crafted has expressive qualities – tone, action and aesthetic appeal – to which an electronic imitation cannot hold a candle.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSWAs good as digital pianos have become in simulating the sound and feel of an acoustic piano, there is nothing that can totally match the real thing. The majority of electronic instruments lack the tone and touch of an acoustic piano, as well as the feel and the ability to convey subtle emotion and feeling. An acoustic piano has strings and hammers, while a digital piano has none. Having actual strings means that there are thousands of things in an acoustic piano (such as sympathetically vibrating strings) that are difficult to reproduce convincingly on a digital piano.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW

The intricate mechanism of a piano key. Image courtesy of allegropianoworks.com

I own both. I love both for different reasons. I regularly teach on the acoustic piano, but have occasionally needed to use the digital, which is not top of the line, but still a quality instrument from one of the top manufacturers. With the exception of a seven-year-old beginner, every student who has used it has commented how “it just doesn’t feel the same”.

However, digital pianos have their specific purpose as well and as technology continues to push itself forward, they will continue to improve. A good digital piano can actually have a better piano tone and touch than a poor quality new acoustic piano, or a used one in poor condition. You have to compare apples with apples.

Looking at a digital simply as a piano (without all the other bells and whistles), the most common reasons I find people go straight to the digital option are size and cost. It is often assumed that a digital piano will take up less space than an acoustic, but in most cases the space required is identical. Eighty-eight piano keys take up basically the same space, no matter what cabinet they are in. As for cost, while the initial cost of an acoustic piano could be a little more than the purchase of an electronic piano, this difference is usually marginal and the digitals don’t hold their value as well. This is frustrating, because you know you have an instrument that still plays beautifully, but like most new technology, the second a more advanced digital piano is released, the older one will become obsolete. An outdated keyboard is often difficult to sell.

Of course, digital pianos have a whole range of other options that make them useful and fun – they are the reasons I have one – but if the decision is being made regarding an instrument on which to learn, these extra features

The truth of the matter is, what you pay for with one option, you do not get with the other and vice versa. The easiest way to compare is to set out the pros and cons of each.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSWWhichever way you go, if the piano is incapable of delivering a good response to touch, the student will not improve.

If you are purchasing the instrument for your children, it is generally recommended that you purchase an acoustic piano. This is because children especially require the real touch and sound of a piano. Their sponge-like brains mean they quickly become accustomed to that with which they are presented. They will begin to expect the lightly weighted feel of an electronic piano, and when it comes time to complete examinations, they will have a very hard time adapting. The AMEB examine above Grade 4 on acoustic only, so that gives some indication of what the examiners are considering and assessing at this level.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Why Do I Teach the Piano? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Why do I teach the piano? Why do I want to help others grow their love of music and gain the ability to do what they desire with that love? This is a long one, so you may want to make a cuppa and settle in for a read and a listen…

Piano teacher in Wallsend, NSW

My mother, Carole and her mother, Doris. Mum and Mama.

For me it is all about legacy. There has been a great legacy left to me by my mother and my grandmother, as well as other ancestors. I am honoured to have received from them my family’s musical gift. While I inherited very little else from them physically, I do have similar hands to theirs; obviously a pianist’s hands. I inherited their ear, which will pick out an alto harmony as quickly and easily as hearing the melody. And I inherited their accompanying skill.

As I have not been blessed with children of my own, I have had to look elsewhere for an outlet to share this treasure. Not only what I have inherited, but everything I learned along the way to help me put it all into practice. I want to help somebody else start their own family memories.

Growing up, music was a tremendously large part of my life. So much of our family life revolved around music. Much of this was also connected to our church, but music extended beyond that as well.

Our family was part of a large church of very musical people (most of whom were related to us somewhere down the line). It was quite common for the congregation to naturally break into four-part harmony during the hymns. Mum and Mama (my grandmother) shared the job of church organist, a role each of them held from their teenage years right up until they were no longer physically able to play. They also played for all weddings and funerals held at the church.

We had a reputation in the area for being a very musically-talented church and often hosted functions where music was shared with the wider public. The church was also well-known for putting on great stage productions and although the congregation was smaller by the time we were old enough to participate, we still carried on the tradition. Mama always provided the accompaniment. My sister and I even produced shows ourselves when we were older. My fondest memories of growing up with my sister are the times we spent together singing and playing duets.

Piano teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Singing in church on Christmas morning with Mum conducting us and Mama accompanying us.

When we were teenagers, Mum and Dad formed a teen singing group (called ‘Heritage’) and we performed around the region. Mum was the musical director and arranged all our songs while our accompanist was, yep you guessed it… my grandmother. She said we all kept her young!

I moved on to working musically in other areas, becoming involved with the local amateur theatre scene, including a few stints as a musical director. Once, when I had an absent band member, Mum jumped in at short notice and played a whole week of shows for me. Good accompanists are hard to find (it’s so much more than just being able to play) so in later years when Mum was the director of the local ladies’ choir, Nova Chorale and needed an accompanist, I helped her out for a couple of years.  She also accompanied half my HSC music class for their practical exam.

While I feel most musically aligned with my mother and grandmother, there are other musical influences in my life. My Dad was a wonderful violinist in his younger days, and still has a good ear and a lovely singing voice. He was always fully involved in all our musical endeavours and used to buy me little instruments (like a fife and a harmonica) on a whim so I could “give it a try”. Mama had brothers with beautiful voices and married a lovely tenor in my Grandad. Grandad used to sing to all the grandkids as he bounced us up and down on his crossed leg (Diddley-um words sung to the melody of ‘My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time’ comes to mind).

Piano teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Second from left, my grandfather. Second from right, my Dad. Far right, my great uncle (Mama’s brother). Great family male voices performing as a barbershop quartet for one of our Music Hall reviews.

It was only after my mother passed away that I found recordings of her and her mother playing together (the recordings had been played after my grandmother’s funeral, when I had already left the church). How incredibly precious are these recordings! They bring me to tears every time I listen to them, because they are a symbol of everything that is dear to me, as well as those we have lost. Beautiful memories.

So you can see how I have been immersed in music my whole life. And why I want to pass it on to others. As well as the times you can share with others, you will also never be lonely when you can play an instrument. This is why it is important for me to teach my students above all else a love of music. Technique is still important, even for non-exam students, as it provides them with the skill they need to play the pieces they enjoy. But it’s all about getting to that stage where you can simply enjoy the music and how it makes you feel.

Here is my one and only video of Mum and I playing together – Stardust. Only a couple of months later she was diagnosed with her illness and twelve months later she was gone. She is the reason I do what I do. Her legacy. Her gift to me. Passing on the flame…

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

 

Congratulations! Exam Results Are In – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

It is a time of celebration here at ‘merri bell music’.

Piano Teacher Wallsend NSWIn mid-June, an assortment of students from our little piano studio in Wallsend sat for practical exams with Australia’s premier examining body, AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board).

I am extremely proud to announce that all results have now been received, with all students achieving an A grade (honours) and one student receiving an A+ (high distinction).

Children and adults, teenagers and pre-teens… they all experienced the same level of nerves, which they learnt to channel into useful nervous energy. For many of them, it was the first time they had participated in a formal practical examination (of any sort) and they all handled themselves professionally and with confidence.

I’m thrilled to bits with them all and thank them for their hard work, dedication and perseverance, but mostly I am proud of their commitment to practising and bettering their art.

Congratulations!

Of course, following the exam path doesn’t suit everybody and here at ‘merri bell music’ about half of our students work to this goal, while the other half are learning purely for personal enjoyment. Either way, the aim is to help them learn, enjoy and love what they are doing.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

The 10 Worst Things to Do Before Your Piano Exam – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Exam season is approaching and for many, it will be your first time experiencing a piano exam. Twelve months of work (or longer for Preliminary students) are culminating in this moment, giving you an opportunity to showcase everything you have learnt and practised.

The AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) have put together a list of ten things you should avoid before an exam. You can read the full article here but in summary the points are:

  1. Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWDon’t slack off on your practise and then cram it all in during the week before.
  2. Use your nerves to create nervous energy that can heighten your performance.
  3. No stimulants – energy drinks, caffeine etc can have the opposite of the desired effect and can make you jittery.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to other candidates; all you can control is your own performance.
  5. Celebrate your hard work instead of downplaying its significance.
  6. Be sure of your general knowledge and practise your aural tests and sight reading well in advance of your exam date.
  7. Be outfitted classily and comfortably and in clothes that don’t restrict your movement.
  8. Have your closest supporters with you.
  9. Remember to show the examiner a beautifully musical performance (not just a display of technique).
  10. Do your best and be proud of it rather than stressing over your final grade.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW

For most people, exams are a stressful time. The best thing you can do is know that you are walking in there as prepared as you can possibly be. If you know you have put in the necessary work, you should be able to enjoy – or at least appreciate – the experience through the haze of nerves.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

 

Does Your Child Have a Secret Weapon? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Young pianists who are successful usually have one thing in common… great parents!

As we start a new term, it’s a good time to take a peek into the world of the piano parent and how much their involvement and attitude can shape their child’s journey. Trevor from Teach Piano Today  has written a great article explaining this, so there’s no point me trying to rehash it.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW

I will say though that I had a learning experience very similar to his and it made all the difference in the world. My parents didn’t let my sister and I quit as soon as we felt either too challenged or bored (because both things will happen at different times), they were involved in our practise sessions and they certainly made piano a priority. We always knew it was a commitment.

Have a read through Trevor’s words here and see if you are being a secret weapon in your child’s success.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Keeping Your Body in Tune – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Today I am having an operation on my shoulder. It is a subacromial decompression (or acromioplasty) to relieve the impingement that has caused me pain and greatly restricted movement for the past twelve months. When I first visited the physiotherapist he was not the least surprised to hear I was a pianist and piano teacher. He said shoulder injuries are not uncommon in our profession. So that started me thinking about how as creatives, we often don’t adequately look after the physical side of things.

Back up straight, feet flat on the floor, arms at right angles, hands high, fingers curved. We have all heard those instructions many times. Good teachers will establish correct posture at the first lesson and will continue to reinforce it. But we tend to think this is solely for better technique and ease of playing and forget that it also serves to protect our bodies.

Playing the piano is not just a mind-finger-piano activity. It is an holistic experience that incorporates our whole body (along with our mind, spirit and emotions), so we need to look after our body not only to harmonise all these aspects but also to compensate for the hours we spend sitting at our instrument.

As musicians, we use a vast array of muscles to play an instrument, but rarely are we encouraged to exercise these muscles. Hundreds of muscles in our body work together to help achieve the nice tone we produce. The reasons why our arms, hands and fingers are important are the most obvious, but we also rely on other areas. For example, our hips affect how we sit and need to move freely to support our torso as we reach up and down the keyboard.

In not considering the physical strain we are placing on our bodies, we instead tend to abuse them. We lean forward, hunching our shoulders, to peer at the music (particularly when concentrating on a troublesome passage), which causes the back to ache and places undue pressure on the shoulders. We sit in the one place for too long without moving, or we sit incorrectly, creating problems in the back, hips and thighs. The tension of concentrating can create stiffness in the wrists and hands.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW

So what do we do about this? We need to be aware of the quality of our movement. Are our movements tense or free? Awkward or smooth? Are we at the keyboard in a position where our muscles and ligaments are working for us or working against us? We can train for a better quality of movement by training attention and awareness.

Stretching and exercise are vitally important. Just as an athlete stretches and prepares before and after exercises, so should musicians before and after playing. Significantly, stretching can prevent injury. However, it also helps to strengthen the muscles and if done regularly, can also slightly lengthen them, which leads to them becoming more efficient. Long hours of practise can also cause tension in the muscles, which stretching will help to release.

Muscles that work better are more effectively prepared to perform, so by stretching and exercising, you can more quickly develop skills and move forward. The new-found balance you feel will inevitably reflect in the quality of your performance.

Tara Davidson from All Better Bodies is a stretch specialist and a massage therapist, so she understands the body and how keeping it in top physical shape can affect all areas of our lives. This includes being supple and flexible in the areas that are affected by and used to play the piano.

Stretch classes are run by Tara twice a week in Toronto, NSW; Tuesday mornings (9.15-10.00am) and Thursday nights (6.15-7.15pm). Be sure to ‘like’ her page – All Better Bodies – for more information and ongoing help with health, fitness and nutrition.

Tara has devised and recorded a short stretching routine that is great for any pianist to run through before sitting down at the piano. Give it a try!

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

 

When is My Child Ready to Start Piano Lessons? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Nowadays – more than in previous times – there seems to be a desire for kids to be involved in many different activities and as early as possible. Young kids are like sponges and we want to feed their curiosity and eagerness.

Music lessons are no exception.

Like any activity, each child is different and will be ready at different times, but the following list will help you determine whether your child is ready to start formal lessons:

Attention span

Can your child sit still and concentrate for 20-30 minutes? Even though most teachers today will vary the lesson with off-the-bench activities as well, it is still a solid half hour of concentration, with much of that time spent at the piano. It’s not the same level of concentration as sitting still watching a movie for an hour.

Reading and writing (and ‘rithmetic)

Fluent reading and writing is not necessary to be able to play the piano. However, confidence in the basics is. The musical alphabet uses the first seven letters and the child needs to be comfortable with their order both forwards and backwards. As well as learning the note names, reading music also involves counting (note values). This concept is based on fractions (eg a crotchet is half the value of a minim).

Fine motor skills

Having the control and dexterity required to correctly hold a pencil helps kids with the fine motor skills needed at the piano. Can they use scissors well? Can they colour fairly well ‘between the lines’?

Reading from left to right

Does your child correctly track from left to right and top to bottom when they read a book?

Recognising patterns

Being able to see patterns and recognise up and down assist with both reading music and keyboard recognition. The keyboard includes groups of two and three black notes and the patterns within these groups are used to establish note locations. Moving up and down the piano according to tone is important, as well as being able to see that notes written on the music are following a particular direction.

Physical strength

Does your child have enough strength to depress the keys using the forearms without undue pressure from the fingers? Can they support their hands on their fingers? There is a physical aspect of piano playing that needs to be developed and this usually occurs between the ages of 6 and 8.

Piano teacher Wallsend NSW

From a very young age, Miss B was always encouraged to indulge in her passion for music but didn’t begin formal lessons until she was physically and emotionally ready – at age 8.

Beat and Rhythm

Does your child sway or move in time to music he hears around him? Can she clap in time? While rhythm can eventually be taught, it is much more difficult to understand how to count music if they can’t hear the beat.

Accepting Criticism

Piano teachers are generally a caring and encouraging bunch of people. However, doing our job involves correcting errors and teaching new things. We will always do it as nicely as possible, but a child who is resistant to being either instructed or corrected may need to wait a little longer before starting.

Agreement to regular practise

Music is not a one-day-a-week commitment like many other activities. These days there are few extracurricular activities that require kids to daily put in a concerted effort. Before starting lessons, you need to ensure your child will be agreeable to daily practise.

You should also assess your own availability to help them. While your teacher will provide your child with all the tools they need to succeed, when the parents are involved children tend to progress more quickly than students left to their own devices. Particularly with young students or beginners, a parent sharing their interest and giving encouragement goes far in their development.

For all the above reasons, I prefer to not start students until they are around six years old.

Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but objectively checking off the points above and waiting until your child is ready to learn with the least amount of stress possible will usually work in their favour.

If they are not yet quite ready for formal lessons, you can still indulge their passion for music by enrolling them in general music appreciation classes. This will also expose them to a variety of instruments and music and will also allow them to develop a good sense of beat and pitch, which will be a huge asset when they begin piano lessons.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

How the Non-Piano-Playing Parent Can Help Their Piano-Playing Child (Part 2) – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

“I don’t understand what she’s playing, so I don’t know how to help.”

This is a phrase I hear often from parents who have no musical training themselves. Because they don’t know the details of the music, they worry they can’t help their child with their practise. This is most definitely not the case.

I wrote two weeks ago about the practical ways a non-musical parent can help their piano student child (that post is here) but believe it or not, you can also help them improve their playing.

1. The most important thing you can do is simple. Listen. That’s it. Listen to them practise. You will hear their pieces often enough that you may surprise yourself when you realise you can pick up mistakes. You don’t need to know how to fix it, but you can stop them and have them go back over that section.

2. Don’t be afraid to say, “Again!” I’m sure you are a music listener, even if you aren’t a musician yourself and your ears will know if something doesn’t sound right. Tell them to play it again. And again. This also works really well for scales and technical work (and my students are used to hearing it – I don’t let a scale go until they have played it without error).

3. Sitting with your child for the first five minutes of practise can have a huge impact on your child’s musical success. For starters, it allows them to realise you are listening and involved and know exactly what they are doing. Use this time to ask them questions, which can be done in two ways:

  • Be nosy. Ask them questions about what they are playing. Pick something the teacher has marked and ask them why or perhaps select a word of terminology or an articulation mark on the music and ask them what it means. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the answer… they are having to think about it; or
  • Ask general questions, such as, “What is the hardest part of this piece? Can you play just that part for me?” or “Can you clap the rhythm of this bar for me?” I can provide flashcards containing samples.

Chances are they’ll get quite a kick from teaching you something as well 🙂

Piano teacher Wallsend NSW4. Encourage them to really listen to what they are doing… and listen yourself. If they play a section a few times and it changes from halting to fluent, congratulate and encourage them. Ask them what they are trying to achieve.

5. Most people can feel a basic rhythm so you should be able to tell if the rhythm is uneven or inconsistent. Ask them to show you how they count the piece/section and have them count out loud as they play it.

6. Don’t expect them to always play their pieces through. Often working on smaller sections is more beneficial. I always teach my students to “pull out” the troublesome section and work on that alone until it has improved. We can put the piece back together at the lesson if they have refined each of the sections. Sometimes a teacher may set only sections (or even just one hand) rather than the whole piece.

7. Tell them to slow down if they’re having trouble. Speed can be built back up but bad habits are harder to unlearn. There is no such thing as too slow!

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.