Types Of Piano Lessons Offered
This is the most common method a piano teacher utilizes for giving piano lessons, sometimes called “classical,” “performance,” “reading,” or “notation.” This is also the most frequently chosen course of instruction among my students. It entails music lessons that help a student play piano fluently via the interpretation of music notes. Weekly assignments include theory and note speller, finger exercises, technique (a scale, chord inversions and progressions, an arpeggio), sight reading skills, a weekly method book song, and one or more long-term pieces chosen by the student. As students develop the ability to read and play music on the piano, they gradually build a repertoire, a collection of musical pieces they can play confidently and from memory. In addition to creating a solid foundation for moving on to other styles, adults, kids, beginners, and experts alike, at any pace, can all experience immense benefit, satisfaction, and fun from learning piano the traditional way.
Another piano education option available to my students is jazz, one of our country’s unique contributions to the world of music! Students learn improvisation and comping (slang for “accompany”) using the musical vernacular of jazz. As a prerequisite beginning jazz students must be able to read music at an intermediate level since music notation is initially necessary to learn tunes, to comp, and to solo. Because of this the age range of jazz students is typically teen through adult. However along the way these music-readers gradually develop and even prefer their new abilities of using theory and playing by ear over reading notes. Jazz students gain strong musical skills and a sense of confidence, particularly in rhythm, which benefits them in any style of music they ultimately choose to pursue.
Short for “popular,” this method is sometimes called “playing by ear,” “rock,” “fake,” or “practical.” Using the historic progression of pop music as a curriculum, students become proficient at piano by listening to songs, creating lead sheets, and playing them. To help students acquire this ability, use of notation is kept to a minimum and eventually displaced by listening and playing only. A typical daily practice includes an ear training or “sing” exercise, improvising a simple piano arrangement of a hit song, transcribing (hearing and writing/playing) the melody, harmony, and comp of a historically important pop song, and working on a stylistically convincing arrangement of a desired song. With each class a student experiences the joy and thrill of gradually being able to play any song they want using only their ears and fingers. This can and does lead naturally into playing on location at church, weddings, parties, in bands with other instruments, and at public Boise venues – the possibilities are limitless!
The school of organizing sounds into music is as old as the phenomenon of music itself and can be a wonderful way to both learn the piano and experience the immense satisfaction of creation. Should students choose this type of lesson they will work to master the common practice conventions of harmony, voice leading, and counterpoint (1600-1900) as well as work on their own compositions. People are often amazed at the sheer amount of information presented though with enough classes, questions, studying, writing, and playing this wealth of information eventually becomes second-hand knowledge to the student. With passion for the sounds of Western music, its written content and idiomatic features, and by applying consistent effort, any student can produce musical works to their satisfaction.