Piano Lessons should be more than Reading Music and Technique

August 9, 2023

In the past, piano teachers have often been very rigid and strict, and only focused on reading music and technique – causing their young students to miss out on so many other aspects of what makes music making beautiful!

I cannot tell you how many adults I’ve met that say “I quit piano” when I’ve divulged to them that I am a piano teacher. Their reasoning? Usually because they were bored with the material or the way the teacher provided instruction!

The good news for you if you are a parent searching for piano lessons for your child is that learning does not have to be a chore. Instead, a good modern music teacher will focus on many different aspects of learning music, and make that music come to life for each student.

In my music school, which is located in the Long Beach area, our piano classes include the traditional aspects of learning music such as reading and technique, but we also allow students to engage with the music in a more enjoyable way.

How is this achieved? By teaching more than just notes on a page.

Here are a few examples:

Piano Lessons Should Include Listening to Music

Students listen to music and form their OWN opinions on what they hear. This means that it’s ok to say “I didn’t really like that piece” or “I really want to learn how to play ‘Peaches’ by Jack Black). Students in my studio are encouraged to have personal autonomy.

Piano Lessons should include Improvisation and Composition

While children thrive on being given guidelines and rules, they also engage more with piano lessons and at home practice when they have freedom to be creative. Placing  TOO many restrictions on a student causes them to feel bored and uneasy.

I introduce improvisation to students at a very early age, and encourage them to learn to use scales and patterns that we learn in our technique practice to make their own music, whether that is blues, classical, or pop

Piano Lessons should include historical information

I hated history class growing up. It was presented to me in a way that was boring and dry from a book (which is sad, because I LOVE reading). It was not until university when I had a realization: music is the way it is BECAUSE of what has happened in the history of the world. Using music and art is an amazing way to help students learn about how we ended up where we are – and provokes very deep and interesting conversations.

Much of our repertoire in music comes from blending of cultures and big historical events. In piano lessons, I like to provide age appropriate tidbits about the pieces students are learning, which often leads to discussions about the larger world around us.

The entire vibe of piano education has shifted to a more holistic, creative, and contextual approach. This  is key to nurturing a lifelong appreciation and love for music. After all, music is created by humans! We must humanize it, and in doing so, we transform piano lessons into a dynamic, engaging, and enriching experience that resonates with students, fostering a lasting passion for music and a deeper appreciation of life!