Choosing to play a musical instrument builds many new skills and has been shown to reduce stress, build confidence, develop metacognitive skills and most of all improves creativity. For parents who have never played an instrument themselves it can be a difficult decision choosing the best instrument for a child to start on.
Why Choose Piano?
Piano is an excellent starter instrument and suitable for most children from the age of four. Playing piano is very visual and students can spot musical patterns and see which notes sound good with other notes. Learning piano is a great way to get a head start on musical theory that will be useful if they choose to take a second instrument in the future.
Starting piano is also great for adults who have never played before. Beginning an instrument at any age still gives the same emotional benefits and is great at maintaining healthy brain function.
What kind of instrument do I need?
When it comes to instruments, there definitely needs to be something available at home to practice with. Having a suitable instrument at home will ensure that progress is uninhibited.
Acoustic Piano: These come in varying conditions, but generally are the preferable choice. Acoustic pianos will have the most similarity to the instrument used in lessons and should provide the most longevity. A good quality acoustic should have no missing keys or hammers and be tuned to A440 tuning. Tuning should occur every 12 -24 months, which costs about $150-$200. Owning a piano also comes with associated moving costs, which can be prohibitive.
Electric Piano: This is the second best option for a student. An electric piano should be full sized (88 keys) with weighted touch, meaning that pressing a key softly plays a quiet noted and pressing hard creates a loud note. Weighted keys should also have some resistance when playing, which imitates the feeling of playing an acoustic piano. Ideally a sustain pedal should also be available as this can be introduced in the first year of learning. Purchased new can start from about $600 and if looked after will last many years. My electric piano has been going strong for at least ten years so far.
Musicorp offer affordable rental options of electric pianos for as little as $12 per month for a 6 month term, which means you can try out instruments before you buy.
Keyboard: A keyboard is a good temporary option when a student commences lessons. Keyboards that are not touch sensitive would actually be considered a toy. Keyboards are usually reduced in size, only play one volume when a key is pressed (no loud or soft unless you change the volume button) and will have a synthetic sound. Keyboards are really only suitable as a starter and students are recommended to upgrade to an electric piano as soon as possible to ensure progress can continue.
What books do I need?
I use many different books and decide on methods to suit varying learning styles. Currently I mostly use Faber Piano Adventures or Piano Safari. I can order the appropriate books for students and invoice accordingly.
Do students get an opportunity to perform?
Studio wide end of term concerts are held regularly to give students the opportunity to perform. Sharing music with one another is the best way to learn, and its a great way to introduce students to repertoire they may want to learn down the track.
Are group lessons available?
Group lessons aren't currently offered during term, however school holiday sessions are run in group format to include more interactive playing among students.
How much practice is required?
When it comes to practice it is dependent on how fast the student wants to progress. Unlike other after school activities, music learning occurs mostly away from lessons. Lessons are used to introduce new themes and techniques that can be explored and developed at home. Doing a little practice every day will mean that progress is quicker. I feel that practice sessions should be relevant to the students age and can either be in small portions or in one go.
- Young students and beginners: 10-20 minutes a day
- Elementary students: 20-30 minutes a day
- Intermediate students: 30-45 minutes a day
- Advanced students: 45-60 minutes a day
Practice should involve playing thoughtfully and paying attention to correct technique, rhythm, finger numbers and notes. Suggested practice strategies are often noted in student books to help guide parents through what is needed for the week.
2019 Studio Policy is available for viewing here.