Achieving Music Goals in Piano Lessons

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People decide to study music or take piano lessons for a variety of reasons.  Many of these goals, however different, often lead to a similar ultimate goal:  the emotional fulfillment or pleasure that music brings.  Personally, I would have to say that this is what I have found keeps the energy and motivation high so that I continue to remain engaged in music endeavours. I think that I was able to grind out the hours of practice during all those formative years mainly because the reward, the pleasure of making music, was so great.  In fact, it often wasn't truly a "grind" but I usually enjoyed the practice itself.  Playing the piano is not just an emotional activity, but quite a physical one also.  I enjoy the tactile sensation of controlling the keyboard, and it brings much satisfaction when I see and hear the piano respond as I have intended. Reaching a certain level of proficiency in piano does take a certain amount of sacrifice, of money, but mostly, time. Depending on their goals, some people become satisfied with their accomplishments within a couple of years; others might need several years to reach their final goals in music performance.

As a piano teacher, whenever I take on a new student, I do ask what his/her music goals are. Usually music goals fall into these two broad categories:

1)  Playing for pleasure or leisure.

2)  Preparation for exams and festivals.

People who simply want to play piano for pleasure or leisure (often adult students, but not exclusively) have often wanted for some time to be able to pick out a tune of some familiar song on the radio. Students in this category will sometimes also want to learn to read notes to some beginner or intermediate level so that they can do simple chording to a melody.  There are a number of different popular method books available for learning piano this way. Some people who want to play piano for pleasure prefer to try to learn to play by ear and not want to bother with the dry task of learning musical notation. 

Students who are interested in preparing for exams and/or festivals or piano recitals will follow a more serious approach to learning piano.  This involves a very different methodology in my practice as a teacher.  This is what I conveniently call the "classical-traditional" method.  This method is characterised by a healthy and balanced learning regimen that includes all the different aspects that are required of exams:  learning musical notation, ear training, technical training (scales, arpeggios), theory, etc. 

Whichever category describes you, I can help you reach your musical goals. The key here though is to let me know what you are interested in.  You communicate this to me at the beginning on the registration form, but periodically during lessons also.  For students in the pleasure-leisure category, lessons seem a bit less formal in that there is more flexibility to jump from one piece of music to another, that we have more freedom to do "what we want" -- whereas the student who is preparing for exams and festivals inherently will have moments of stress as they try to meet deadlines and meet specific technical and artistic goals.  These students can't simply "put a piece of music back on the shelf" simply because they are tired of it.  In this category/method, there is a prescribed course of study--and it must be followed closely in order to achieve the best results and be successful.

Above all, the activity of learning piano / music should be enjoyable, regardless of which category or method followed.


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