What to include in a structured piano lesson as well as practice sessions?

by Carolyn Topliff
(New York)

As a beginning piano student many years ago, I did not have much structure in my piano lessons. Now I feel as though I have loopholes in my learning which show up to haunt me. I am trying to fill in the gaps. In your opinion what would you include in both a well-structured piano lesson as well as in practice sessions?

Maria's Answer:
Finding a great teacher/mentor to guide you is the probably best answer. S/he will help you find these particular loopholes of yours, which can be hard to see objectively on your own. A "new set of eyes" will help you make a plan for your continued learning. You can also video record yourself and view it as if it was someone else playing and, as neutral as possible, judge where your special weaknesses lie.

A well-structured lesson is designed in two ways; around the students' particular needs, musically and technically as well as following a plan for development depending on the style, direction ambition and skill the student has.

When a more advanced student comes to me, with obvious "loopholes" in their playing, in addition to building a repertoire I immediately recommend a strict diet of:

1. Hanon- oh yes! The best fix of all.
2. Bach and more Bach. Especially 2 and 3 part inventions, play them all.
3. Love all the scales and chords.
4. Working through the repertoire and etudes in the Celebration series, start with level 3-4.

If you decide to teach yourself, these books are helpful for when you are not a true beginner, but still need a step by step approach:

I Used to Play Piano -- Refresher Course: An Innovative Approach for Adults Returning to the Piano, Comb Bound Book & CD

Returning to the Piano: A Refresher Book for Adults

Happy Practicing!

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