How to Teach Beginner Piano

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

how-to-teach-beginner-pianoIt 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

how-to-teach-beginner-pianoThe 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.

Have Fun

how-to-teach-beginner-pianoThis 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

how-to-teach-beginner-pianoSometimes 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.

12 thoughts on “How to Teach Beginner Piano

  1. I have always been moved by musical instruments. My dad has been playing guitar my whole life while my aunt has been playing piano for even longer. I have wanted to learn both but I have always been so scarce for time. I have an older piano at my house that no one ever uses and I want to be the one to bring tune back to that old piano.

    Michael Aaron’s Piano Course Lessons Grade 1 sounds like the perfect place for me to start. I am 23 and not very musically inclined, yet. I plan to spend quite a bit of time refining my piano talent while also looking to compare what I can to guitar if at all comparable. Would you say the guitar and piano are compatible with learning one into the other? Thank you for this article.

    1. Hi Kenny, 

      It’s wonderful that you are finally going to take up music. To answer your question, it all depends on what you would like to learn. Do you want to learn to play songs on guitar or piano? Or do you want to learn to play notes? 

      If you want to learn to play songs, then you can learn how to construct guitar and piano chords and just play that. It would be a good idea to focus on just one instrument in the beginning so that you don’t get frustrated with learning. Michael Aaron’s course is good for adult beginners to play notes, perhaps you could ask a family member to help you where you have a challenge or don’t understand. And also with the basics of piano playing.

      If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

  2. My son shows interest in learning music. He goes on our piano to randomly play notes and just makes up some tunes with the keys. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve played but may play with books by reading notes that I’ve had back then from time to time and very rusty. I want to teach my son music and the piano. I’m going to try to fit in the time with him. Thanks for sharing this 

    1. It’s wonderful that you have a piano for your son to play on, it will be good to grow his desire to play. If you don’t have the time to teach him, you can always find a piano teacher in your area, it’s usually not that pricey, or you could enroll him to take music at school. There is always a way.

  3. Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with me and I love playing the piano .Piano is very popular for this wonderful piano and I think it is very easy to learn .And I have a kid who loves piano tunes and I’m teaching him piano and I think the book is a good fit for him to teach. And my favorite book is John Thompson’s Adult Piano Course .And this book is very enjoyable for my child and he is very well able to learn to play the piano .Also, I wish my child was a bit older when I enroll him in a good academy and I hope he does much better in the future.

    Lastly, I hope all parents will follow the tips you give their children to play the piano, and I will definitely share with you my new experience with my baby.

    1. Thats Wonderful! As you say, piano is a wonderful instrument and it is so great that your kid is learning to play. Music helps with children develop life skills and it will be a great idea to enroll him in a school. Thank you for sharing with me.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing such an excellent article with us. Your article was very interesting and informative. I have got a lot of information about the Piano. I love music very much. I have been trying for a long time how I can learn the piano. I was searching through different places to learn the piano but after reading your article I found out how to learn the piano and I love it. Piano education is one of my many hobbies. After you read this article, I found encouragement and confidence in piano education and valuable information about education that I greatly benefited from. I will share your website on my social media so that my friends can benefit from getting valuable information from your website.

    1. I am happy that you feel encouraged about learning piano. I would advise that you begin with a teacher so that he/she can show you the basics of piano. If not, then you can learn with Youtube. I wish you all the best on your music education journey. If you have any questions on your journey, please come back and ask.

  5. I really appreciate this review.
    Thank you so much Carolyn for sharing this beautiful article with us. Your post was very informative for Beginners who want to learn to play the piano.

    I love playing the piano, to me many are interested in learning the piano. Your post is very helpful to me. Read your post and get to know it clearly. How can I better educate my learners? Of course I’ll use Michael Aaron’s book Piano Course Lessons Grade 1. I hope to succeed. I will follow the tips you give.

    I will share this post via social media, hoping others will benefit.

    1. Thank you for you message. To better educate your learners, you can show them how to practice at home. When they are in the lesson with you, tell them how to practice, example: If they struggle with one part of the music, just focus on those two bars and they should do that at home. This way they will see faster progress and it will make them feel like they are winning which makes them love their instrument.

  6. Hello, I enjoy a lot while reading your guide and find it very useful for everyone. While reading I know teaching music does not only entail that, but it also entails teaching life lessons and kids learning life lessons. When we have a student, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they know what is expected of them as a music student. Your guide is awesome for students.

    1. Thank you for reading the article and yes you are correct. I’m glad you enjoyed it and thank you for the kind feedback.

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