Piano for adults

Piano for Adults

Welcome back to the creative piano blog. Today we’re talking about piano lessons with adult students. This is near and dear to my heart because I studied piano as an adult and actually did a second degree in piano pedagogy and music as an adult. I also did some research on studying piano as an adult, and I love teaching adults–it’s very satisfying when adult students learn and make progress with the piano.

Sometimes people had lessons in childhood and then don’t play for many years while they’re raising a family or doing other things. Sometime adults take lessons alongside a child, or pursue an interest in taking lessons for the very first time. In any of those scenarios, adult students bring their own particular needs to the lesson and you want to gear your teaching toward the adult students needs. Typically this includes being able to relax and learn to use the hands and the body in a certain way to make a good sound and to be able to play the instrument. To work on the eye-hand coordination, depending upon the level of the student in terms of their prior music let knowledge. Lessons revolve around knowing the language of music, so if it’s a very beginning student they are going to need to learn the notation system and how music is written so that they can read piano music. Often the literature that is played at the adult beginning level includes pieces that will be familiar to people, so that the tune is easier to play because you know what it should sound like and you’re aiming for what it should sound like

The relationship with the teacher is always central. The adult student needs to be feeling comfortable to raise questions, to come in with issues that might have come up in practice that week and be able to talk about those issues with the teacher and get some good feedback as to how they can proceed. Because sometimes there will be very particular things that are going on with the way the hand is working, or the eye-hand coordination that the teacher can provide feedback on that you can’t get from video or from going through the lesson books on your own.. You want to be able to have a relationship with the teacher so the teacher can provide that feedback and support.

The length of lessons for adult students is typically 45 minutes to an hour and that has to do with the fact that you’re trying to approach the material in a way that works for the adult. A half-hour just seems not to be long enough: it’s not quite long enough to get through the theory part and some of the aspects that tie into playing. Adults need to talk a little bit more about the material and connect it to what they already know. So it does take 45 minutes to an hour, and I would say adults are going to make more progress on their playing if they practice 45 minutes to an hour a day. Not all necessarily in one sitting, but aim for a half- hour of practice on most days. A good rule of thumb is to put in the amount of time at daily practice that you have for the length of the lesson.

I hope this gives you some good ideas about taking lessons if you’re interested as an adult– whether you’re coming back to piano, approaching it for the first time, or taking lessons to keep up with your children who are taking lessons. It’s always a great thing to give yourself the gift of music. See you next time. Thanks for listening.

Piano Lessons – What to Expect

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about piano lessons and what to expect when you have a child taking piano lessons or when you yourself are taking piano lessons. The lessons themselves are individualized lessons, unless of course you are signing up for a group class in which case it’s a group lesson but primarily most piano lessons will be individual. So in fact you can expect a lot of individual attention for the student– that’s the first thing. The second thing is  that the lesson is going to be tailored to where that student is developmentally, and also what the content is that they need to be learning at that time. There are lots of materials for teaching piano, and teachers will select many different lessons series etc., but the key thing is to really make sure that the student understands what the key concepts are before moving onto the next, because everything is layered.

The key concepts when studying piano, are number one, the language of music itself because music is its own language as we know, and it has a written component. So there are written notes on lines and spaces called the staff and we have to teach the student what that language is, what those symbols stand for, how to read them properly, and then how to match that up with the keys on the keyboard which also have musical alphabet letter names.

So piano lessons involve the musical alphabet, music reading skills, and usually writing skills as well because there are written activities that help with music reading.  I tell students that reading and writing are two sides of the same coin. Reading and writing music go hand-in-hand. So we do a lot of reading and writing activities, not always during the lessons but as assignments.

During lessons you’re going to be playing the piano, so from one lesson to the next there will be pieces that will be assigned for the student to work on, and when they bring their materials back to the next lesson, they are playing through those pieces and the teacher is working with the student on how it’s going, how it sounds, what needs to be enhanced or corrected or changed.

That gets into the technique of playing– the use of the fingers, the hands, and the arm to play the piano and to play it in a way that makes a beautiful sound, and in a way that’s going to be good for the hand.  In other words, not to do anything that will cramp the hand or cause injury in any way. You want to be sure that the student is learning about how to use the hands and what the technique is for proper playing.

Between the language of music, the theory of music, and the how-to, actually the technical aspects of playing, those are the main components of the lesson.  Those will be balanced depending on what the student needs and the age of the student, so it’s taught in a way that is going to make the most sense and is going to connect with the student.

Last, I would say that you should be able to have a really good experience at the lesson, and look forward to coming back to future lessons. So if the child is dragging, or if you’re feeling that coming to lessons is not really working, then it’s time to stop and have a conversation with the teacher because the lessons are individualized and they should work for the student.

I hope this gives you some idea of what to look forward to when you’re anticipating lessons for yourself or your children. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me or email me. I’ll  be glad to talk with you.  See you online next time.

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