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FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions

When is a good age to start?

What styles will I learn?

Do I need a piano?

How much do I need to practise?

What books will I need?

What opportunities are there to perform?

Are adults too old to learn?

What is your teaching approach?

Will I take exams?

What do lessons cost?

FAQs

When is a good age to start?

If a child shows a genuine interest in the piano, and can concentrate and listen, then I teach from the age of 5. Often aged 7 is an ideal starting age, when they are able to read. At this age, they are a bit more independent, they will learn to read music notation more easily, and will generally make quicker progress.

Parental support is vital at a young age, supervising practice and actively encouraging their child. Ideally one parent should have musical experience, or be prepared to sit in on lessons and learn alongside their youngster.

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What styles will I learn?

Happy pupils are those playing the music they like, and quite simply everyone’s choice is individual, so no two pupils are learning exactly the same. My own personal tastes are very varied (see the groups and instruments I play), so I really encourage all my students to explore different types of music. The piano can cover everything, and recorder music too is surprisingly versatile.

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Do I need a piano?

Yes! You certainly need either an acoustic or digital piano or a very good keyboard.

Piano technique will only develop properly with a weighted keyboard i.e. it is touch sensitive (can play loudly or quietly through finger touch).

Keyboards should also be full size ie. 88 keys.– I use beginner books that require this.

It is understandable that parents do not wish to invest in an instrument if they don’t know if their child will take to it. However, cheap keyboards are really not suitable for paid piano lessons as the type of musical skills I teach can’t then be practised and finger strength won’t develop properly. Hiring a piano or getting a second hand instrument eg. on Ebay are better options.

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How much do I need to practise?

Little and often! Anyone wanting to make progress needs to practise at least 4 days a week, for at least 10 minutes, at a regular time and (if young) supervised by a supportive adult. Piano lessons are not like having another weekly activity – playing needs to become a part of daily life because learning to play requires simple muscle repetition to develop coordination. Piano playing is not easy without this.

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What books will I need?

I provide learning folders to focus practice. Pupils of any age will generally need to purchase a tutor book, a finger technique book, a theory book and any associated exam books, during the year, along with repertoire pieces. This averages £10 per term.

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What opportunities are there to perform?

Playing with and for others is very important, although some initially learn simply for personal pleasure. I organise pupil piano parties several times a year to give performance  experience in a friendly environment. These (with games and cake) are very successful and warmly received by both performers and the audience. I actively encourage and support any child wanting to audition or perform at school.

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Are adults too old to learn?

Adult returners find it is like riding a bicycle – your body remembers skills acquired in youth. I have rewarding and long lasting partnerships with my adult pupils, travelling with them on their new journey of discovery of the world of piano and recorder. Everyone comes with their own set of ambitions and ideas of what music they want to play, and my job is to bring ideas of music and to enable them to play it.

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What is your teaching approach?

I take pleasure in seeing students progress to become independent learners, and encourage performances as much as examinations. I run adult soirees and children’s piano parties regularly, and use Trinity and ABRSM syllabuses.

I use newly-published tutor books and software, and keep up to date with the latest developments by attending professional conferences and courses.

I do focus on developing a good piano playing technique, since playing musically and with control is difficult without this. Pupils need a good instrument to practise on; a tuned acoustic piano or a touch sensitive digital piano with 88 keys (see above – ‘Do I need a Piano’) either upon starting lessons or within a couple of terms.

I also teach basic harmony and theory from the outset, so that all pupils can learn to harmonise their own melodies and learn to improvise.

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Will I take exams?

Taking a practical (playing) exam and achieving success can be a great motivator and marker of progress. However, I only advocate this for those (of any age) who want to devote 1-2 terms to honing their skills and focusing on a limited number of pieces. It is quite possible to thrive musically without needing to take exams.

I enter pupils for the Practical and Performance exams of ABRSM, and the Trinity equivalents. The choice depends on the areas of strength of the pupil.

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What do lessons cost?

Lessons are £40 per hour, £30 for 45 minutes and £20 for 30 minutes. These are charged in half-termly instalments.

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