Piano for Preteen and Teenage Students

Today we’re going to be talking about piano lessons for preteen and teenage students. I love the age group and the excitement of working with pre-teens and teens.  Students in that age group love to accomplish a lot, so if they make steady progress and they’re really into the music, you’re going to see a lot of excitement about what they can play and how they move forward.

If they are beginning piano at that age, the challenge is to select beginning music for the student and a series that is specifically geared to an older student. You don’t want an older student reading beginning material that’s geared to younger children, so selecting the proper material is important.  Encouraging the student to be patient is also important because often students are exposed to lots of music and they’re used to a very sophisticated, engineered sound.  Often they may have very little tolerance for mistakes, and they may think that it should be a lot easier to play the piano.  They don’t necessarily want to put in the time and effort to doing what it takes to make a good sound at the piano. So it takes some encouragement and some instruction as to what it means to play the piano.  My analogy to students  at that age is that it’s a lot like sports: you have to warm up, you have to practice your moves, you have to put time in before you can expect to be a star player on a team.

So for pre-teens and teens, it’s a lot of working  with the individual student, with what they need, whether they are beginning or whether they’re advanced at that point, or more of an intermediate student. Another thing is letting them choose the material that works for them–at that age they have some sense of what they want to play, what they want to replicate on the piano. They may have taken other instruments at school. They may be doing other things with music– chorus or other instruments, band, ensemble playing, so there’s a lot that you would consider in terms of what that individual student is bringing to the lesson.

Because there are so many competing interests for pre-teens and teens, sometimes bi-weekly lessons can work well if they have the discipline to practice in between without the weekly lessons. Often having that extra week gives them time to practice. If they’ve been taking lessons for a while, the music that they’re playing will be more advanced, and requires more time to practice. So if they’re very busy with sports and other activities after school and they don’t have time to practice, to go from one week to the next and not have time to practice can be frustrating. Depending on the sophistication of the music– the level of the music they’re playing– the length of the lesson changes so that they might have a 45 minute rather than a 30 minute lesson, or they might have a hour lesson if they’re playing more advanced intermediate music. It all depends on what they’re doing, and where they are in their own development as musicians.

I hope that gives you some ideas about piano lessons for pre-teens and teens. If you’re a parent considering lessons for a teenager, or if you’ve had a child taking lessons all along and suddenly they want to do something different as a teenager, this will give you some food for thought. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions, or email me.  See you online next time.

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