Teaching piano weeks 3 & 4

Over the last 2 weeks, my piano teaching has been quite successful. I ended up teaching two students, a brother and a sister and I realized that I had underestimated their skills and knowledge on the piano. Both of them already knew how to read notes, so that made my job a lot easier. They also had experience playing songs, and the brother stopped playing at a 4th grade level whereas the younger sister stopped around a 1st grade level. I began by asking the brother if he knew what technique and scales were, and to my surprise he seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. A scale is a series of notes that are played on the keyboard one at a time, going up the keyboard and back down again. This exercise is a component of technique, which helps to improve finger control and strength. I introduced the C major scale to him, which is the easiest key of them all as it includes no sharps or flats (only the white keys are played). Below is a picture of this:

We focused on just the right hand first and then moved on to the left, and here are some tips I gave him

  1. lift the fingers and wrist up for better control and precision
  2. release each note before playing the next one
  3. work on fingering! Each note must be played with a certain finger in a scale
  4. curve the finger tips and spread fingers apart just enough so that each finger has a note to play
  5. practice the left hand and right hand separately first then put them together

After scales, we worked on playing pieces which he had learned in the past with his old piano teacher. Because it had been a while since he practiced them, much of what he learned was forgotten so I helped guide him through the whole piece. Every so often, I corrected him if he played the wrong note and made sure to tap a steady beat to help him play at a consistent speed. I also made sure to write down everything he needed to work on in a notebook so he could keep track of what to practice for the week.

For his sister, I didn’t teach her any scales or technique because she is at a lower level than he is, and we went straight into learning pieces. Although she knew how to read notes, it took her some time to read them and she needed my help for some of the trickier ones. The main thing we worked on was counting to keep a steady beat and tempo. Because there are different rhythms in music, it is important to count how many beats are in each note value. I wrote the counting in her music and together, we counted aloud as she played through the piece and I also tapped a steady beat. This helped a lot with her speed and consistency. Another thing we worked on was fingering. It piano, each finger is assigned a different number that is used to play different notes. For a child, this can be confusing especially because it is different for both hands. To help her understand this concept better, I traced her hands onto a sheet of paper and numbered each finger. Having a visual like this can make things simpler and easier to understand.

I am looking forward to my next lesson with them!

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