By Suzanna M. - San Francisco Piano Teacher
Recently, as I was finishing up a lesson, I commented to my student's mother on how well he was doing lately. She said it was all part of being a good tiger mother. Of course I had heard of Amy Chua's book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but I hadn't realized the immediate impact the book was having.
I began casually asking parents if they had read the book. Those who had were quite inspired to get their kids on a very ambitious practicing schedule. While I do not agree with all of Ms. Chua’s extreme parenting tactics, a strong and structured practice regimen is something I do recommend to all the students I teach during my piano lessons in San Francisco.
In the book, Chua talks about forcing her kids practice for extremely long periods of time and how it helped them become superior musicians. One thing that was stressed to me in pedagogy class is that practicing in short but frequent sessions is far more productive than sitting down for a long period of time. I usually recommend practicing for ten to twenty minutes a day, depending on the age and level of the student. It is important to build good technique, especially when the student is young. But until the student has developed a strong enough technique to handle extended playing sessions, it is better to keep the practice sessions short to avoid strain on the hands. Even students at the advanced level should only play for thirty to forty minutes at a time.
One of my favorite tips for my piano students in San Francisco is to incorporate practice into the homework schedule by using it as a break between academic subjects. Ten minutes here or twenty minutes there add up quickly and will help any student achieve their playing goals and satisfy the most demanding tiger mother.
Beginning students can expect to learn note reading and technique exercises designed to strengthen the fingers and help the student recognize common musical patterns, as well as starting to play simple songs immediately, and then songs using left hand chords.
Intermediate students can expect to learn more difficult pieces involving left hand and right hand chords, as well as basics in musical interpretation and improvisation.
Advanced students can expect a focus on the musical subtleties on more advanced works.
• Provide interactive and engaging private lessons to students of all ages.
• Improvise and sight-read with students to help develop a working knowledge of musicality and movement.
• Help students listen to and understand the music they know and love through musical development and ear training.
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Intro to the Piano: Learn about the parts of the piano and how to find the all-important Middle C.
Learn about proper posture, hand placement, and other beginner essentials.
Learn about the treble and bass clefs, and tips for remembering the notes on the piano.
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Follow along to master quarter notes, quarter rests, and half rests.
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