If the students enjoy the music they are working on, they will go to the piano of their own accord, and enjoy the time they spend there. This is one of my most fundamental beliefs, ergo students must begin to play music they enjoy as soon as possible. Each student’s method books are tailored to their individual needs based on age, learning speed and musical tastes. Students also vary in their strongest natural learning styles: visual: learns best by seeing and looking, auditory: learns best by hearing and listening or kinesthetic: learns best by touching and doing. Learning to play the piano should incorporate learning to read by note, by ear and by improvisation, so that every student’s natural gifts have a chance to flourish and shine. Conversely, we continue to strengthen and encourage their natural weaknesses. Teaching the art of piano performance in this way develops very well-rounded musicians.
How Does It Work?
Starting in our first lesson together, we will embark on the first step of learning to read by note, chord symbol and ear. “By Note,” (or “As Written”) is the most traditional method of the three. In this method you learn to read the notes and rhythms exactly as they are written on the page. In the “Chord Symbols” component, we learn how to play and read chords and chord progressions. This is a more free-form style of playing, that still incorporates reading music to a certain degree, but is focused on improvisation and creating your own arrangement of a piece. (Most pop, rock, jazz, blues, worship and other similar styles are written and understood best in this way.) “Ear” is exactly what it sounds like: learning to play music entirely by listening to it, with no reading involved.
The End Result
My end goal for every student is proficiency at reading any type of sheet music, improvising in a variety of musical styles and learning any song solely by listening to it. With this accomplished, the student is equipped with the tools they need to enjoy the piano as a hobby for the rest of their life at the very least, and to continue on at the university level if that be their choice.