In today’s blog I will discuss How to Teach Beginner Piano to people of all ages. I love the piano and I love teaching piano, I find that it is a great instrument for anyone to learn and it is simple to teach. Many and most people would agree that the piano has a beautiful sound and that they love the sound of the piano, which is another reason why it is such a popular instrument.
When you learn How to Teach Beginner Piano, It’s important that you are always aware of your type of student before you begin teaching them. For example, take note of their age and what type of music they want to learn. Usually, kids are happy with learning classical piano in the beginning and doing their external music exams, whilst high school or adults would prefer to learn chords and songs and not so much classical music. Below are some tips on teaching:
Have the Appropriate Piano Books
It is of the utmost importance that you have a suitable piano book to teach your student. It needs to be one that is suitable to their age and the type of music they wish to learn.
For KIDS, I use Me and My Piano Part 1 & 2 and if you are looking for more pieces to play, you could also get Me and My Piano Repertoire. The only disadvantage to this tutor is that the finger numbers are written on the short melodies and kids tend to look at the finger numbers when they play which makes them lazy to read the notes.
However, the book has pretty and fun pictures in the book which the kids love. It also teaches at a good pace, first teaching the basics of music and then leading up to learning 5 notes in the right hand and then 5 notes in the left hand, before going into playing both hands. Another good book for kids that I enjoy using is John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course. This book has colourful monsters in, so hopefully your kid is not too sensitive.
For OLDER BEGINNERS like high school students and adults, I use Michael Aaron’s Piano Course Lessons Grade 1. The book looks more age appropriate for the older beginners since there are limited pictures and more information. This book contains helpful information in the book to teach you new rhythms and contains longer piano pieces. In addition, the learning pace is faster so that students do not get bored, but remain challenged.
Sometimes I do, however use Me and My Piano Part 1 even for older beginners like high school students, because the book teaches the basics simple and even high school students enjoy colour. When I use this tutor, I will usually go faster through the book and I will tell the students to look at the notes and stay away from the numbers.
I actually cover up the numbers when they play in our lesson and then I can see them sweat to get to the letter names. Going through Me and My Piano fast makes the student feel like they have made fast progress which makes them feel like they are winning, which is good all round. Adults can use John Thompson’s Adult Piano Course and there are a few options to choose from such as the Modern Course.
Lay a Good Foundation
The secret to becoming great at anything is having a good and firm foundation so that it makes building on it simple. Teaching music does not only entail that, but it also entails teaching life lessons and kids learning life lessons. When you have a student, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they know what is expected of them as a music student. Tell them how many days a week they need to practice for and the amount of minutes they should practice for that day.
I usually tell my students that they should practice at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes. If they are very young, like in grade 2, then just 15 minutes. You can use your discretion here. Warning: Do not be surprised if your students don’t practice, it happens quite frequently and is one of the challenges of a music teacher. You can read the rest of a music teacher’s challenges over here.
Another important aspect is to ensure that your student ALWAYS brings their piano music and books to the lesson. If they don’t bring it, try to give them an incentive to bring it. I will admit, that I bribe my kids with merits. If they came to the lesson on time and worked hard in the lesson, I will give them 2 merits and then I tell them that if they bring their books next week, I will give them 3 merits.
It works all the time and the kids are happy to receive a merit and gives them happy thoughts about music. For high school students, I give them warnings if they do not bring their books, because there is a greater expectation of responsibility for them since they are older.
This is by far, the most important aspect of playing the piano and doing music. When all the nitty gritty is out the way, make sure that you stimulate your student in the pieces that they play and make sure that they enjoy the pieces. You can listen to the pieces they play on Youtube and see if they like the sound of it, or you could play it to them and ask if they like it and would like to play it.
This is a good way to get your student excited about playing a piece. In addition, you could just have fun in your lesson by your student playing anything they want on the piano, this helps them get comfortable playing without a book and everyone loves to make up their own melody or just play whatever they want to.
Encourage your students to listen to simple songs and try to figure it out on the piano, for example, your student tries to find the melody of Happy Birthday, it will strengthen their ear. Now not all students will enjoy this type of thing, some of them will prefer sitting with a book in front of them and playing the notes. That’s okay. Try to get them to just play whatever they want at home.
Enjoy Being a Teacher
Sometimes music teachers may doubt themselves and wonder if what they do even makes a difference in someone’s life, you may even be thinking about a career change. Hang in there and just enjoy the fact that you get to do what you love the most every day. I love that in my work, I get to listen to songs or play songs while my students sing. I absolutely love that and I love my students, no matter how much they may drive me crazy when they don’t practice or they forget to bring their books. As a music teacher we get a solid amount of minutes to have a great impact on a student’s life, make a great impact and enjoy it 🙂
Please feel free to comment below and share your teaching tips.