Ready to start learning piano? If you’re new to lessons, you might be wondering what to expect. Every teacher is different — some may be more strict, while others may be worried about how they come across to students. Read on St. Augustine, FL teacher Heather L. shares a few insider tips to keep in mind…
There are three kinds of piano teachers. There are those who tell the truth, openly and all the time, those who sugarcoat practically everything, afraid to hurt their students’ feelings, and those who tell only tidbits of the truth. I once read that a teacher who showers his students with only accolades and compliments is like a plumber who comes to your house to repair your sink, but only stands there telling you how beautiful it is. Some things just need to be said in order for you to make improvements and grow. While your piano teacher probably has the very best of intentions, she may not be saying everything she’d like to say. This is a list of five things that your piano teacher may not be telling you.
• You’re just not practicing enough.
Let’s face it — you’ve probably already guessed this one. I’ve met few pianists in my life who practice as much and as long as their teachers would like (most of them are music professors or concert pianists). But think of it this way, unless you practice consistently, all of your time spent on the piano loses a lot of its value. All of the money and energy poured into lessons and recitals may not be totally wasted, but you’re sure not getting what they’re worth.
• You need to be more consistent in your lesson attendance.
Unless you’re taking lessons in an intensive conservatory or from a very old-fashioned person, your teacher is probably fairly understanding of missed lessons that are due to occasional special events, long vacations, and serious illness. But more often, I see a student taking lessons off without rescheduling because he sneezed three times one morning, she stubbed her toe, or he has sports event that he knew about two years ago. Seriously though, so much can be lost as you’re learning piano when your lessons become sporadic. It’s much harder to catch up on your music studies than on your schoolwork. Try to attend lessons regularly, except when you’re contagiously sick or out of town.
• You should consider upgrading your keyboard or tuning your piano.
What’s great about needing a new instrument is that it shows that you’ve been working really hard or you’ve chosen to begin with a new dedication. You might need a new piano or keyboard if it can no longer be tuned, the soundboard is broken, plugs or cords have become unsafe, or the keyboard is not a full 61 keys. On the other hand, you may have a piano that just needs to be tuned. This upgrade can make all the difference in the world to your playing, especially in terms of music theory and ear training.
• Your personal choice of music is not exactly helping your studies.
So I must admit that I do not, even as a classically trained singer and pianist and teacher, listen strictly to classical music and opera in my spare time. I enjoy listening to lots of different genres. But the truth is that much of the reason that I understand and interpret music on a decent level is that I have listened to it a lot, and continue to do so, albeit more occasionally than I have in the past. I don’t like to preach about listening to certain music, but having both your heart and your ears open to the classics might change your playing for the better.
• You are amazing.
For having the courage to face the risks that come with learning anything, especially a performance art, and for making the decision to expand your mind with piano lessons, you are amazing.
In the end, open communication is key to any healthy relationship, even the one with your piano teacher. Be honest and candid with her, and she’ll be at least a little more honest and candid with you. But there might always be five things she’ll never tell you.
Heather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!
Photo by peddhapati