What’s so different about the way we do things? In many ways our approach is quite traditional. Children are taught to read music and to develop a sound and healthy technique (the whole process of how the body interacts with the instrument) – and of course none of this can be achieved without practice as a routine part of life. But there are certain features in the way we go about things which help our pupils to get there more effectively:
- Our Piano Course Vols 1–24 takes our pupils from beginner to Grade 8 standard.
- All the music can be heard on CDs or our YouTube video playlists so our pupils have a clear idea of how the music should sound.
- Parents of our primary school-age pupils attend the lessons and take notes. This means they are in touch with what happens in the lesson and are able to make the best use of the child’s practice sessions at home. Having parents involved in lessons and practice means that even very young children can make real progress. An early start can be worthwhile and rewarding.
- Using our piano course it’s possible for very young children to play more than just the few notes they can read from the page. Children are able to play colourful music ranging over the whole keyboard. Pieces like this are learned by listening to the CD/video and copying the teacher or parent. And they can watch other children play their pieces on our videos.
- Pupils are encouraged to take part in different kinds of performances – if they wish! Preparing for a performance at any level develops both motivation and confidence.
We do begin the work of learning to read music from the first lessons, but we also ensure children have plenty to play which is not dependent on music reading. Short pieces with easily memorised patterns and tunes (the words of the song can be a help too) can be taught by demonstration in the lesson. The CD recording or YouTube video allows the children to absorb the sound of the piece at home, and the parent will also have learned at the lesson something of how the piece is played. This way, young children are able to engage in the activity of playing the piano in an interesting and exciting way, right from the outset. Piano playing embraces a huge range of styles and has a vast literature. As well as following our course, pupils are encouraged to be adventurous, to explore, and to acquire any music that they find attractive to try out for themselves. Learning to play the piano takes concentration, discipline, and commitment, but we always bear in mind that children – and adults – undertake it with the expectation that it will be an enjoyable way to spend time. Once under way, pupils find the energy to sustain their efforts precisely because they experience the rewards that success brings. We want our pupils to feel in themselves that they are managing well. Our approach, then, is to balance the desire for speedy progress with the need to ensure that the tasks set in the weekly lessons are manageable in the short term. Pupils need encouragement (lots of it!) from their teachers and their families. Equally, they need to see results from their work. In time, the satisfaction of playing well becomes the principal motivator to improving one’s playing.