Why do I need an acoustic piano? And how often do I need to get it tuned?
Despite technological advancements in recent years, even the best of digital pianos fail to accurately replicate the wonderful feel and sound of the real thing! The good news is that acoustic pianos hold their value better than digital pianos, so they are usually a worthwhile investment even when buying used. Acoustic pianos should be tuned twice a year (possibly more for newer instruments during the “break-in” period) by a qualified piano technician (we are happy to recommend one for you!) Regular tuning is critical to the development of the student’s aural skills; it ensures that the student is hearing the proper pitches of each note on the piano. Playing on an out-of-tune piano for students who have already developed their sense of pitch puts a burden on the student as their attempts to polish and perfect is hampered by the “ugly” notes. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity affect the tuning. Well-maintained, high-quality pianos generally hold their pitch better. And, tuning the instrument 2-3 times a year is not much, considering that string players tune their instruments every time they play! Getting regular tunings is worth it.
How long should my lesson be? Recommended lesson lengths are as follows:
- 30 minutes for Elementary ages (pre-k to grade 5),
- 45 minutes for Middle School (grades 6-9),
- 60 minutes for High School students and Adults.
Am I committed to taking lessons for the whole school year? Because the study of piano is a long-term commitment, discontinuing mid-year is discouraged. If a student is planning to terminate their lessons, a month’s notice is preferred. Also, once tuition is paid, it is non-refundable.
How can I get my child to practice? Good practice habits need to be established when the student begins lessons. This regularity of discipline is necessary to ensure long-term progress. Consistent, engaged practice lays the foundation for the physical stamina and mental focus that is necessary as the difficulty of the repertoire increases.
- Have a routine that accompanies practicing (right before or after a meal or other daily activity)
- Practice at the same time every day when possible
- Keep a chart or other incentive program. Even if it is something simple such as a “Piano Calendar” onto which a sticker is placed for each practice session. This works for adults, too! Click here for practice charts
- Keep your child motivated by taking advantage of performance opportunities throughout the year (family, friends, studio events, school, etc)
- Provide a “Perfect Practice” Zone
Adjustable Bench and footstools, Excellent lighting (both task and general), Noise and distraction free,Assistance for younger children
How much practicing is necessary? Consistency and quality are essential when it comes to practicing. Daily practice ensures progress and preparedness for the lessons. The act of preparing for the lessons empowers the students which enables them to relax and learn new skills in the lessons. Upon learning these skills, students are excited to try out what they have learned, and the practice cycle is off to a good start. It is important not to get caught up in the number of minutes and setting timers, though sometimes these techniques can be turned into a game and yield marvelous results. Also, 10-15 minutes of focused practice is better than 30 minutes of soggy discouraged fingers. Generally, the daily practice should be about the length of your weekly lesson. It is sometimes more productive to split the practice up and have two sessions in a single day. Increased frequency of practice has tremendous benefits versus sporadic albeit long sessions at the piano.
Should parents attend lessons? YES! In fact this is strongly encouraged. Parents who sit in on lessons are able to help their children’s practice sessions stay productive especially for younger beginners who need help reading assignments and remembering what was taught in the lesson. For middle school aged students parents should at least eavesdrop from the next room to increase their awareness of lesson progress. This also helps to keep the communication flowing between the parent, teacher and student during these critical years of transition into young adulthood.
What about younger siblings? It is a good idea to arrange for an alternate activity or babysitter so that the lesson is kept distraction-free and the parent is able to focus on their child’s lesson.