Lesson Structure

I would appreciate knowing what the most effective way to structure a piano lesson and the practice is.

Is it better to introduce many pieces every class and let the student practice what he or she needs?

Or is it better to focus on one single piece at every lesson?

Grateful for your advice.

Maria's answer:

There is no right or wrong way here.

I believe that the answer depends on the actual need of the student at each particular time.

In my studio I like to work with a "multiple angle" approach.

We work with at least one new piece, another one that is "under construction", and several pieces that are kept maintained and improved on a repertoire.

Together with scales, chords, arpeggios and exercises like Hanon or "A Dozen a Day", or an etude like Czerny or Burgmuller for example.

We also work on special projects like chord piano, improvisation/composition, prim a vista, music theory work and ensemble pieces: not all of it all the time (impossible!) but all of it some of the time!

This gives the student a healthy menu of different musical aspects to work with every which and makes the practice (and the lesson) much more varied and fun.

However- at some point all students get longer pieces, and larger works. Even though I still give them many different things to work on, we will not have the time during the lesson to cover it all.

We will then focus on a particular need, or difficulty the student has with a piece. This might mean that we work only with one aspect of a piece, let's say phrasing or pedaling, the whole lesson.

Many lessons are also spent teaching the student how to practice, this is maybe the most important of it all!

So, for me variety is key. Otherwise it would be far too boring both for me and my students.

One of the best advice I got as a pedagogy student was always to end the lesson in a great way. Ending on a happy "note" is a great tool to make the student want to go home and practice as soon as possible!

How to organize it all?

I use a weekly assignment book, which I fill in as we work each lesson. It saves both them a lot of time, and me from losing my mind trying to remember each individual students' assignments!

A super tool. I used to make my own, but this was far more time consuming, and expensive, than buying a ready made. I now use Helen Marlais' Student Assignment Book for Every Day

Hope this was of help to you!


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