A. Try to practice every day at a regularly scheduled time. You may not always be in the mood, but if you show up for your practice session the way you show up for work or school, you'll get the job done. Go through your new assignment first, then spend some time reviewing repertoire and memorizing. Playing Heart & Soul for a half-hour is NOT practicing! Remember to practice all your pieces and/or songs, not just your favorites. It is more important to get in a quality practice session and cover your entire new assignment at least once than to worry about how much time you've spent at the piano. Spend as much time as it takes to give yourself a thorough work-out. Be honest with yourself.
Q. 2. Should I help my child with his/her assignment?
A. If you can read music and help your child, fine. But please make sure you really understand what you're telling them. I have had students misdirected by their parents. And if it's a theory assignment they need help with, please do not do it for them! I constantly tell students to please save anything they're having trouble with for the next lesson. Don't worry if all the blanks are filled in...I want them to understand what they're doing!
Q. 3. Should students practice on a keyboard, a digital piano, or a real piano?
A. For starters, keyboards are OK when students are first learning the notes, and parents haven't decided whether or not to invest in a piano. Eventually, however, it is better to be practicing on an acoustic piano because the weighted action of the wooden keys provides a better workout for finger strengthening than the plastic keys of a keyboard. A digital piano with weighted keys and piano-like action is equally suitable for practicing and often has additional features such as the ability to record and play various instrument sounds. Keyboards and digital pianos do not require tuning, are more portable than acoustic pianos, take up less space, and may seem like more fun to the young student. Acoustic pianos should be tuned twice a year and should not be kept near open windows, heaters, fireplaces, or AC vents. Storing things on top of your piano can cause sympathetic vibrations while playing. Do not set drinks or lit cigarettes on your piano.
Q. 4. Should students be practicing with a metronome?
A. I generally only use metronomes with students who are having problems keeping good, even time on their own. It is much better to have an internal time/rhythm keeper than to rely on an external one. Metronomes are great to use while doing scales and finger exercises. When used while playing pieces, however, they can be a distraction.
Q. 5. Should I require my child to perform in recitals, festivals or competitions?
A. Quite plainly, NO. Too many people have quit taking lessons because of bad recital experiences. We are not trying to make concert pianists or opera divas out of the entire population! We want people to learn music, and enjoy playing an instrument and/or singing. If recitals aren't your thing, fine. No one's forcing you. Play or sing for yourself, just for fun. Record yourself sometime and listen to how you sound. We can record students in the studio during their lesson as well.
Q. 6. Is it OK to make copies of sheet music to use in the lesson?
A. Every time a work is unlawfully duplicated, a writer or arranger's income is slighted. Copies should not be used to avoid purchase of a piece of sheet music or a recording.
Q. 7. May I sit in on my child's lesson?
A. Personally, I do not have a problem with this, especially for the little ones. I do, however, feel I can build a better rapport working with the student by myself, one-on-one.
Q. 8. Do I need to cut my nails for playing the piano?
A. Yes. If you can see your nails when you look at your hand palm facing you, than they're too long for playing the piano. They will click on the keys and get in the way. You need to attack the keys with the fleshy part of your fingertip. If the nail is too long, you will not be able to do this.
Q. 9. Can I bring a friend to sit in on my lesson?
A. As long as they're quiet, and as long as it's just once in a while. I do not want students to be distracted during their lesson, nor am I a baby-sitting service.
Q. 10. Can I practice songs other than the ones I'm assigned?
A. Sure, but in addition to, not instead of, your assigned lesson pieces.
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