Piano lessons tips and advice

Piano lessons motivation

The single most important factor to consider when learning to play the piano is maximising motivation to practice. The 2 key aspects to motivating someone to learn to play piano are:-

  • a belief that they can achieve the desired outcome
  • having fun during the process.

The easiest way to ensure that practising piano is fun, is to choose a piece of music that you want to learn. It is much more fun to learn a song that you love than it is to learn a song that you have never heard before (as is often the case when children learn classical music).

Different piano music styles

There is sometimes an element of snobbery in piano music whereby some teachers consider classical music to be superior to other forms of popular music, folk, jazz etc

From my point of view as someone who has been trained classically and has also played for many years in pop bands, the skill of playing music is totally unrelated to the the type of music being played .

For example playing a blues piano piece with a very simple three chord structure can be more complicated than a classical pieces if the player ad-libs complex rhythms and runs. To write down syncopated blues piano style would be very complicated however teaching somebody some simple rules and patterns, around which they could improvise, leads to a very advanced and impressive style of playing, much quicker than by traditional teaching methods. This is evidenced in several styles of music for example traditional Irish music, which usually does not involve reading any traditional notational at all, yet often incorporates very complex and advanced playing styles.

Surely the most important outcome from playing the piano, is that a player has fun and the audience enjoy the music. In my view it is not important how technically a difficult a piece is, more ‘how good it sounds’. For example in my view it would not be ‘better music’ if the player was blindfolded with one hand behind their back – although this would be technically more difficult than if the same player was not blindfolded and use both hands. Similarly I do not think it is important to place emphasis on how somebody holds their hand in relation to the keyboard, or focus on bad posture etc .. as everyone can have their own style, just as singers and dancers can have a non-traditional style which is appreciated by the audience. It is far important to be comfortable in whatever posture you wish to adopt. Placing an emphasis on technical skills and posture can kill one of the two key elements in progressing your skills ie having fun.

Three tips to maximise motivation and piano lessons success

In summary – some key tips to maximising motivation and therefore the rate of progress of learning piano are: –

  1. let the students choose the music to be played without any restriction on the style of music
  2. teach some quick wins such as patterns of chords which give the pupil a feeling of achievement at an early stage
  3. utilise the students existing skills for example teach them how to play based upon knowledge they already have, such as numbers colours and patterns instead of jumping straight into classical notation which is totally new to them and meaningless to them, until they have spent a considerable amount of time becoming familiar with it. Notation is the biggest barrier to learning piano and in some cultures is not required whatsoever (such as traditional Irish music and several other types of folk music).
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