Here are some of the most common questions I get frequently from enquiries. I answer them here for you for quick reference.
Q1. At what age can my child start taking piano lessons?
I would say usually no younger than age 5 (6-7 would be a better age range to start). It is very hard for a child to sit quite still and concentrate through even a 30-minute lesson every week. It is also difficult for him/her to be able to understand the teacher’s direction, react to it and perform it. It takes time for a child at such a young age to adapt to such a new learning concept, but it is a very good training. It requires much patience from the child, the parents and the teacher, especially during the first six months. The progress might be slow and minimal during the first year, depending on the learning mode and maturity of each student. Do not expect a child to play something very fancy quickly at the beginning: quite on the contrary, we should take time to build a solid foundation of piano playing and musical concept right from the start. Naturally the fancy things will come later.
Q2. How long is a lesson for my child?
I suggest for young beginners, a 30-minute lesson every week to start with. As said before, a child cannot sit still and concentrate for more than 30 minutes (as a matter of fact, even adult’s concentration span is less than 30 minutes!). But a 30-minute lesson goes by really fast – I like it when a student tells me with a disappointed face, “wow, are we finished? I want to play more!”, than when a student feels bored and refuses to play, wishing the lesson can finish earlier.
Some students with faster progress would proceed to 45-minute lessons. Some beginners may even take longer time to go through the 30-minute lesson period. Most importantly, I want your child to enjoy the piano lessons but not to detest them. Some brilliant students who are fast learners would even take 1-hour lessons when 45-minute lessons are not enough to go through everything.
Some students who are siblings would take an extra lesson together for theory and composition. It is a wonderful thing to do so since they can learn more with less cost and time. There are many ways to improve and progress on piano playing away from the piano, and this is one of them.
Students of advanced level would take 1-hour lesson every week. Some would take 1-and-a-half-hour lessons if resource and time are allowed.
Q3. Do you teach adults?
Yes, I do teach adults, from absolute beginners from scratch to advanced level students and piano teachers. If you have never learnt playing the piano, start NOW! You have probably heard the old saying, “late is better than never”. It is true. Have you ever regretted that you never had the chance to learn playing the piano when you were little? Or you have stopped playing because of study, work or simply too many other things to learn or do? Do not think, “oh, but I am much older now, I cannot compare with the young children who start learning from early age!” Why do you think you have to compare yourself to them? You are you, you have your strong points and individuality. And you know what? Adults have their advantages in learning the piano. First of all, it is YOU who want to take lessons, not your parents. That is why you are here reading this. Second of all, adults know much better than kids, right? (Well, not in that tone as you think). But you have learnt much more during these years, you can process datas quicker, you can associate different materials easier, your hands and feet can coordinate better, you can read and understand faster, etc, etc. So start today, start now. Do not even hesitate for another second. Because, before you know it, it would be another month, another year, and another decade past, and you still have not started playing the piano.
For adult beginners, I suggest you start with 30-minute lessons first. Depending on the progress, you would proceed to 45-minute lessons when appropriate (I strongly recommend it if you have the resource to do so- but it’s optional) . Adult students of intermediate levels would start with 45-month lessons while those of advanced levels would take 1-hour lessons weekly.
To adult students, I say, “don’t be shy!”, contact me and let me know your concern – it’s important for me to understand what your interest and goal before we begin, so that you are off to a good start!
Q4. What do you teach in a lesson?
This is a simple question with a complicated answer. Although I have a teaching philosophy and methodology, I do not teach every student the same way. Every student is different and unique. I have to understand the way that is most effective for him or her to learn easily and efficiently in an enjoyable manner. Of course, sometimes there would be obstacles and difficulties in playing and students just have to deal with them, tackle them, and move on.
With piano beginners, I teach with our systematic piano program that is specially designed to provide a solid foundation in music and piano training. You can read more about it here. You can also find the coursebooks on Amazon.com.
In general, I teach the classical repertoire but add music of various styles and genres (e.g. jazz, blues, pop, improv, musical etc.) on the side. But I also can personalize the program according to each student’s particular interest – which means I won’t force someone to play all classical music if they want to learn to arrange and compose music. In fact, I like students learn to play and appreciate all kinds of music genre. Some creative students would work on composing their own music and arrangements as well.
I focus on building a solid foundation of piano technique and musical knowledge pertinent to a beautiful and individual playing. I also emphasize developing a good sight-reading ability and improvisation skill; these are the most neglected, ignored and underrated capacities so far among teaching nowadays, yet they are crucial for piano playing that lasts for a lifetime. For every student, I maintain a personal and detailed learning progress report. I make yearly plans for each student of what techniques and repertoire they have to learn and what goals they have to achieve (e.g. performances, competitions, exams). I review my reports frequently and communicate with the students and/or their parents regularly.
I am all about learning but I also want students to have fun in our lessons!
Q5. Can I buy an electric keyboard instead of a piano?
I understand the concerns behind buying a piano: one, buying a keyboard is much cheaper; two, you are not sure if you or your child is serious about piano playing; three, there is not enough space to fit in a piano. Yes, I understand all of these. If all you want is to be able to play some music on a keyboard, an electric one would suffice to perform such trick.
However, if you want to “play the piano”, then you need a real piano! The action of a piano is totally different from an electric keyboard (in fact I do not see any action there in the latter but an electric one) and it thus requires a special kind of technique and touch to play it and produce the diverse and beautiful nuances from it. The sound of a piano produced is also unique of its own that that of an electric keyboard cannot compare (the “grand piano” sound from a keyboard is so fake!). The technique required to play an electric keyboard is limited and therefore much simpler. And for those who haven’t bought an instrument and are considering about getting one, I suggest buying a good quality second-hand piano when there is a limited budget. You only have to be very careful about finding a piano company that you can trust. Even the so-called “new” pianos sold at some prestigious piano companies are not that well-maintained. You should ask your teacher or someone who knows piano to check it for you if possible.
For those who are not sure if they/their children are serious about learning the piano, I suggest you rent a well-maintained piano from a local piano company. You can use a decent quality piano at a lower cost. And when you like to buy it, the rental fee paid can be deducted from the selling price as well. You can also find very good used pianos out there if you look hard enough – I have used many used ones : they are well-maintained by previous owners and I can get them at greatly discounted prices!
Let me know if you need any advice on purchasing your first/next instrument.
Q6. Where do you teach?
My home studio is located in Longmont. I currently teach in person and online. Contact me directly for more details!
Q7. How many students do you teach currently?
Currently, I have almost 40 students locally. I also consult students online, mostly for professional piano diploma preparation and piano teaching coaching.