FAQ re Piano Teaching

What duration and frequency of lessons do you offer? 

Most common is 30-minutes weekly. Until quite advanced levels I believe weekly teacher input is important to maintain good habits and good progress. Where appropriate I teach longer lessons of 45 or 60 minutes fortnightly.

What ages do you teach? 

Re children – I am happiest teaching from the age of 8-9. Other teachers will take younger ones, however I do not believe my strengths lie with this age range. Feel free to contact me to discuss further. Re adults – any age.

Practising?

Little and often beats a once-a-week marathon

Quality beats quantity

Try for a regular daily slot, 5-10 minutes 4-5 times a week in the first year or two, increasing to 25-30 minutes as grade 8 is approached

I’m always a little sad to hear of 30 minute sessions the day before (or morning of) a lesson. Practise the day after the lesson – you will remember much more of what we did, how we did it and what I said.

Don’t expect to play your piece at full speed from day 1 – teach youself to hear it slower and play it slower until your fingers and brain can work at the final tempo.

Just as footballers and tennis-players training is not just playing games, but doing excercises and technical drills, so yours will be.

Work on those bars where the notes go wrong or you need to slow down. Do those broken chords, scales and arpeggios so that when you meet them in pieces your hands think ‘Yippee – I know how to do this’.

Practising is not playing from bar 1 to the end with hesitations and going back over mistakes – that is learning to play the piece with mistakes.

Everything learned incorrectly needs 7 correct repetitions to fix

Can you clap the rhythms? Can you tap them out hands together on your knees?

Support your learning with intelligent listening – what do I like about this piece/song? How does it make me feel? What’s the tempo? Rhythmic patters? Instrumentation? Texture? Structure?

Extend your horizons – listen to a new style of music, a new radio channel, a new band, a new composer, more of the same composer/band

What kind of instrument do I need? 

In my ideal world everyone would learn on a traditional (‘acoustic’) piano. A good ‘real’ piano has a quality of sound and a responsiveness that I have only found in the more expensive (2k+) digital ones. However they are large and difficult to move around and below £1,000 you may get a better sound and feel from a ‘digital piano’. Many piano shops support a rent before you buy scheme where the rental payments are not lost if you do indeed buy later on and ‘real’ pianos retain much more of their value than electronic instruments.

A ‘digital piano’ is not the same as an ‘electronic keyboard’. A digital piano will have 88-keys, a piano-like touch-and-feel  and a very limited range of ‘voices’ – probably piano, organ and harpsichord. A good instrument to learn on would probably start around £300.

Manufacturers frequently update their models. The last time I went into a shop and tried a few digital pianos I liked the Casio CDP-100 ( £300-350) and the Yamaha YDP141 (£550-£600). Though you can get keen prices from various internet sellers I would encourage to  try local independent shops which may price match for you.

An electronic keyboard will have fewer keys, a lighter touch, 100s of ‘voices’, backing rhythms and a ‘single finger chord accompaniment’ option. Mine sounds sufficiently like a piano for me to use in lessons to demonstrate as this saves the pupil having to get up off the piano stool.

I am very happy to advise on instruments and have a factsheet for enquirers.

If you already have an electronic keyboard, one with full-sized keys will suffice for the early stages, but once a certain standard is reached a reasonable traditional piano or quality digital one will be required to reach the pupil’s full potential and maximise their enjoyment.

Can you visit my home?

The advantages of coming to me are that I have an extra keyboard so I can demo without the pupil having to get up, I have masses of music and recordings instantly available should the lesson take an interesting diversion.

If I travelled to pupils’ homes, it would reduce the number of pupils I could teach and for economic reasons I would have to charge my travelling time.